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updated: 2016-11-06
2003 February
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Economic News 2003 February


Todd Josko _Tallahassee Democrat_
Phone monopoly takes money from your pocket
"If I had my way, every time an executive at BellSouth or state and federal telecom regulators made a phone call, they would hear an obnoxious, computer-generated voice that said: 'Please deposit $625M.'   That $625M is what the lack of competition in local phone service is costing Florida consumers every year in missed opportunities for the lower prices and better value that would come with having alternatives to BellSouth's near monopoly.   It's part of a state-by-state consumer savings analysis reported in January by CompTel, a national coalition of competitive telecom service providers, based on projections prepared by the Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC).   Nationally, the analysis shows that the lack of full local phone competition is costing consumers a whopping $9.2G a year in lost savings.   Consumers in a handful of states are beginning to realize some of those savings, but at the same time the Bell companies are mounting a full-court press to snuff out the competition that finally has begun to develop...   The study shows that [Florida's] 6.3M residential phone customers are paying an average of $98.90 a year more than we would be if we had the benefits of a fully competitive telecom services market."


Joyce Lain Kennedy
Will Your Job Ship Out?
"It began with jobs in IT (information technology, including computer programmers).   Now off-shoring is starting to chip away at a wide range of America's wanted jobs, as executives boast that they can get 2, 3 and 4 'heads' across the ocean for the price of 1 professional in the US.   The cheaper-heads trend sweeping corporate America will have an enormous impact on US work-places."


_Business Week_
The New Global Job Shift
Shipping Out
Perilous Currents in the Off-shore Shift: Companies now desperate to cut costs by sending skilled, high-paying jobs over-seas often don't understand what they're really doing
The Good Life in a Bombay Call Center: Far from a dead-end job, for college-educated Indians, answering phones for Wipro Spectramind's global clients is a plum position
For India's Tech Grads, There's No Place Like Home: Who needs Silicon Valley when Bangalore offers fulfilling work and an upwardly mobile lifestyle?
Globalization Goes White Collar (with tables)

Stanley Holmes & Simon Ostrovsky _Business Week_
Boeing emloyees resist off-shore out-sourcing to Russia
"Boeing began to view its Russian staff as the vanguard of a new push into the European market, and in 1998 it opened its Moscow Design Center, which a year ago boasted nearly 700 engineers.   From the day the center opened, engineers at Boeing's Seattle hub had voiced concerns.   Last year, those fears boiled over.   Boeing's 22K engineers in Seattle, represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), threatened to walk out in December, when their contract expired, if the Russian venture wasn't cut back.   Partly as a result, Boeing reduced its corps of Moscow engineers to about 350, though the company won't be precise.   'The under-lying fear is that we're giving away our technology and our competitive advantage, and we're losing jobs.', says Dave Landress, a test engineer and union rep.   The union has good reason for concern: Struggling to reduce costs to cope with the sharp fall-off in orders from the ailing airline industry, Boeing has laid off 5K engineers since 2001."


2003-02-03 21:04PST (2003-02-04 00:04EST) (2003-02-04 05:04GMT)
Bambi Francisco _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
War stocks -- Try the Internet: Wait for a pull-back and then take a look
"Before I get into why the Internet is appealing, let's consider why tech is not.   The tech sector is still fraught with innumerable negatives, not the least of which is an investment base relentlessly nostalgic for the good-old days.   Since 2000, the group is in denial, blaming everything -- Enron, scandals and 2001/09/11 -- but its own maturity.   The latest scapegoat is the war...  To be sure, war talk is causing corporate paralysis, which invariably weighs on heavily indebted and jobless consumers...   Observers estimate a 5% to 7% increase in IT budgets this year...   Software companies have to provide twice as much product for the same money, according to Morgan Stanley.   But that goes for anything technological.   For instance, I recently purchased a digital camera for 20% less than I paid 18 months ago, and I received at least 40% more functionality and features.   The point is, the functionality that the average person or company needs is available at lower prices -- therefore IT budgets don't have to rise, they can fall.   And no amount of features, or 'feature creep', as one software executive calls it, will make these products any more compelling...   At the start of 2003 January, the largest Nasdaq names traded at 52 times trailing earnings and 7.7 times sales, he noted.   In comparison, in 1990, these tech stocks traded at 16 times earnings and 2 times sales...   Internet users are averaging 11 hours a week, up an hour from last year.   The Internet is also cutting down the time people used to spend watching TV, according to a UCLA study.   And nearly half of the 30% of Americans who do not use the Net, say they are likely to go onto the Web within a year...   In on-line advertising, 286 Fortune 500 companies launched an on-line ad campaign in the last quarter of 2002, up from 270 in the same period a year ago...   But at least they've got one thing going for them: an immature market as more people consume and conduct business on-line."

2003-02-03 21:53PST (2003-02-03 23:53CST) (2003-02-04 00:53EST) (2003-02-04 05:53GMT)
_Houston Chronicle_
Study of Wal-Mart finds a major gender pay gap
"Women working at Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, earned from 4.5% to 5.6% less than men doing similar jobs and with similar experience levels between 1996 and 2001, according to a study conducted as part of a federal discrimination law-suit...   The pay gap widens higher up the management ladder, the report said.   It found that male management trainees make an average of $23,175 a year, compared with $22,371 for female trainees.   At the senior vice president level, the average man makes $419,435 a year, the report said, while the 4 women in the position earn an average of $279,772.   Wal-Mart executives, reached late Monday, said they had not seen the study by Oakland, Calif.-based statistician Richard Drogin..."

2003-02-04 09:18PST (12:18EST) (17:18GMT)
_AP_/_Dow Jones_/_SF Chronicle_
Challenger says announced January job cuts up 42% from December
"Announced job cuts for January totaled 132,222 compared with 92,917 in December, Challenger said.   The job cuts were led by the retail sector, which saw 44,087 lay-off announcements, followed by commodities companies, with 10,241, and transportation concerns, with 9,958.   Telecommunications companies, which have led losses for much of the past year, showed some improvement, with cuts in that field falling to 7,265 -- the second lowest level in 25 months.   The report said that in the past 6 months, companies have announced plans to cut 746,781 workers -- a figure larger than the annual totals for 12 of the last 14 years."

2003-02-04 07:58PST (10:58EST) (15:58GMT)
Jenny Spitz _CBS.MarketWatch.dom_
Identix boosted by defense order
"Without disclosing the value, Identix said the order was for a 5.4M-user license for its finger-print recognition technology.   The BioEngine technology will be used by the Defense Department to upgrade its existing finger-print recognition system, the company said...   The Minnetonka, MN-based company sells several finger-print and facial recognition technologies for the private and government sectors."

Ali Davis _Salon_
Out-sourcing Rejection
"What I learned at the Phone Center was that people don't really use middlemen like me out of necessity; they use us to keep their hands clean and their offices tidy.   When I started working at the phone center, I thought of my job as helping other people find jobs.   It took me awhile to realize that that wasn't really it.   The companies that used us didn't want us to do their hiring for them; they wanted us to do their rejecting for them.   It's messy and uncomfortable to tell someone you've decided he's not qualified for a job he really needs, especially when the job itself already sucks.   It's so much easier to have a lackey in another state do the screening and a computer fire off the bad news."

Job Cut Announcements Jump
"In the latest sign of a still-wobbly US labor market, companies said they intended to slash 132,222 jobs from their pay-rolls last month [2003 January], a 42% jump from the 92,917 planned lay-offs announced in December, employment research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said."

Matt Marshall _San Jose Mercury News_
Start-ups getting venture funding: 'Healthy' Pace Resumes
"In a flurry of new activity, Silicon Valley's venture capitalists have opened their wallets to fund a slew of start-ups.   While there's no sign of a robust rebound from last year's anemic investment levels, the deals struck in late January appear to be part of a steadying pace by Bay Area venture firms."

Stacy A. Teicher _Christian Science Monitor_
An influx of flux
"With the job market in a slump, counselors who help people translate what they've learned into a paying job are working over-time...   At the University of Pennsylvania, alumni now make up 15% of career-counseling clients, up from 10% when jobs were plentiful, Associated Press reports."

Tim Stefanini _San Francisco Examiner_
Off-shore IT work hits the state
"The reality is that in the midst of huge lay-offs, we allowed 2M foreign information technology workers to come to this country while 180K IT jobs were lost.   In India, a false credential industry exists; there are more than 30 universities where a degree can be purchased.   The INS has found that more than 40% of applicants for the technology visa have fake credentials.   It's one thing to be replaced by a foreign worker; it's another to be replaced by someone with little or no experience...   At least half of California's $35G budget deficit can be traced to this shift to foreign labor."

Joel Mowbray _Town Hall_
US State Department's idea of a "traitor"
"After news broke that the State Department was brokering a deal to give up to $345G -- or more -- in [Socialist Insecurity] benefits to illegal aliens from Mexico (through what's known as a 'totalization agreement'), consular affairs (CA) chief Maura Harty was furious.   Not that my story was inaccurate -- it wasn't -- but that such 'sensitive' details of the agreement made their way into public view.   Harty lashed out at CA staff members, declaring that the 'leak' [of public information] at State was a 'traitor'..."


David Leonhardt _NY Times_
US Economy in Worst Hiring Slump in 20 Years
alternate link
"With economic growth having slowed to less than 1% in recent months, about 1M people appear to have dropped out of the labor force, neither working nor looking for a job, according to government figures...   The lack of jobs has also slowed wage growth, so that only workers in the most affluent group are still gaining ground on inflation...   The economy has lost more than 2M jobs, a drop of 1.5%, since the recent recession began in 2001 March, as lay-offs have continued despite the resumption of economic growth more than a year ago.   The decline was 1.3% at the same point in the business cycle a decade ago...   Most economists say the tax plan and another $4G in help for the jobless would have only a small effect on the economy this year...   The bigger problem seems to be companies' unwillingness to hire new workers.   In December, the number of help-wanted advertisements in newspapers across the country fell to the lowest level in almost 40 years, according to the Conference Board, a research group in New York...   Almost 1.9M people still looking for work have been unemployed for at least 6 months, triple the number of 2 years ago...   Since June, the number of adults not in the labor force has jumped by more than 1M, to 72.4M, according to the Labor Department...   Qualcomm Inc., the technology company based in San Diego, receives 200 resumes a day, up almost 25% from a year ago, and the applicants are generally more qualified than in the past, said Daniel Sullivan, executive vice president for human resources."

Diane Alden _News Max_
Dumping the 3rd world on the west

_Columbus Business Journal_
Survey: Job cuts accelerating
"Corporate job-cut announcements jumped 42% in January to 132,222 from 92,917 in December, according to the latest monthly job-cut report released by outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc.   But despite the increase, there's good news to be found in the figures.   January's numbers were 46% lower than the 248,475 job cuts announced in 2002 January, when the economy was still reeling from the 2001 September 11, terrorist attacks.   One promising figure in this January's report is a significant decline in telecommunications job cuts, which fell to 7,265, the second lowest figure in more than 25 months, behind 2001 October (6,956)...   In the last 6 months, companies have announced plans to cut 746,781 workers from their pay-rolls, according to Challenger Gray's data.   That figure is larger than the annual total for 12 of the last 14 years."

Don Luskin _Capitalism Magazine_
Greenspan Returns to "Barbarous Relic", Gold (with graph)
"The last time that gold was above $370 was 1996 December 6.   Students of military history won't find that date significant, but Fed-watchers will.   That was the day following Alan Greenspan's speech in which he first warned of 'irrational exuberance' in the stock market.   And it was the day that Alan Greenspan took America off the gold standard...   From 1987 to 1996, the Fed funds rate very closely tracked the 2-year moving average of the gold price.   We may never know the exact thought process, but this much is clear: For that decade, when the gold price was rising, Greenspan was raising the federal funds interest rate, just as though he regarded gold as a leading indicator of inflationary risk.   Conversely, when the gold price was falling, Greenspan eased...   even after an historic fusillade of rate-cuts that have left the Fed's gun nearly empty, unemployment is over 6% and still rising, investors are worrying about a double-dip recession, and asset markets are in shambles...   A chastened Alan Greenspan, once again firmly grasping his golden compass, is a wonderful thing for the economy.   A lot of damage has been done, but that compass will point the way to the long-term price stability that will provide the best kind of base for economic recovery."


2003-02-06 01:00PST (04:00EST) (09:00GMT)
Vincent Ryan _NewsFactor_
How To Get Hired in the New High-Tech Era
"From 1995 to 2001, the number of high-tech jobs increased by 1.6M.   But in the first half of 2002 alone, more than 113K IT positions disappeared, according to the American Electronics Association [AeA].   Moreover, after several years of salary hikes in excess of 5%, wages for IT workers are expected to decline 1.3% on average in 2003...   Companies want candidates whose track record in the last 3 to 5 years 'hits the bulls-eye' for the job requirements, John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told NewsFactor.   In addition, although it sounds contradictory, companies are thinly staffed, so they also want people with multiple skills and, in certain cases, jacks of all trades."

2003-02-06 05:24PST (08:24EST) (13:24GMT)
US India pact to boost tech trade
"The United States has agreed with India on a plan to increase high-tech trade, completing a reversal of sanctions imposed after India carried out nuclear tests in 1998, US officials said Thursday.   The accord makes it easier for US companies to sell to India 'dual-use' technology with both military and civilian applications...   High-tech trade can cover nearly anything- - from equipment used to build high-speed computers to components needed to create nuclear-capable missiles."

2003-02-06 09:11PST (12:11EST) (17:11GMT)
Anna Willard _Reuters_
Productivity Drops, Jobless Claims Fall
"US worker productivity abruptly reversed in the final quarter of last year as the economy slowed, the government said on Thursday, though gains for the whole year were the largest in over 50 years.   A separate report showed a slight drop in the number of American's lining up for the first time to claim unemployment benefits...   The Labor Department said the productivity of workers outside the farm sector dropped 0.2% in the fourth quarter after a rocketing ahead 5.5% in the previous 3 months of the year.   The Labor Department also reported that initial jobless claims for the week ending February 1 fell by 11K to a seasonally adjusted 391K.   That was higher than the 389K expected by analysts and followed a revised 402K for the previous week...   Despite the fourth-quarter setback, productivity for the full year 2002 soared 4.7% -- the most robust pace since 1950 and more than 4 times the 1.1% gain in 2001...   Unit labor costs, a closely watched measure of wage pressures, climbed 4.8%, the largest rise since the third quarter of 2000.   That was higher than expectations for a 3.3% increase...   Hourly compensation adjusted for inflation rose 2.2% after an increase of 3.4% in the previous quarter.   Manufacturing productivity rose just 0.7% after an increase of 5.5% in the third quarter.   However, for the year, manufacturing productivity rose 4.6%, the strongest rise since 1999."

2003-02-06 14:53PST (17:53EST) (22:53GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Job growth could be an illusion: Did firms hire more workers, or just lay off fewer?
"The problem comes from the seasonal adjustments for retail hiring...   When the government reports its monthly numbers, it adjusts them for seasonal factors to allow economists and us interested amateurs to see underlying trends more clearly.   But sometimes the seasonal adjustments serve only to cloud the issue.   For instance, retail hiring typically soars in November and December as retail outlets get ready for the holiday rush.   The seasonally adjusted government data tries to smooth out that seasonal bump, so that normal seasonal hiring would appear as zero job growth in the reported data.   But if the normal seasonal patterns are disrupted, the number becomes distorted.   That's what happened this year...   In November, retailers actually hired 298K more workers, but the seasonal adjustment expected about 338K, so the seasonally adjusted figure showed a loss of 40K...   The story was the same in December.   Retailers actually hired 162K more workers, but the seasonal adjustment turned that into a 104K decline, accounting for all of December's non-farm pay-roll loss of 101K...   The jobs report comes from 2 separate surveys.   The pay-rolls number comes from a survey of more than 300K establishments.   The unemployment rate comes from a survey of about 60K house-holds.   The jobless rate topped at 6% in December, matching an 8-year high.   A few economists believe the rate spiked higher to 6.1% in January.   The jobless rate would be much higher, except nearly 2M people have dropped out of the work-force in the past year, many because they are too discouraged to entertain any hope of finding a job.   In addition to the 8.6M Americans classified officially as unemployed, there are 4.4M who say they want to work, but aren't looking...   Executives in the non-manufacturing sectors told the Institute for Supply Management in January that temp help is in short supply."

Diane E. Lewis _Boston Globe_
Aid for jobless IT workers urged: Group says many are not eligible for unemployment benefits extension
"A survey of 3K laid-off Massachusetts high-tech professionals released yesterday reveals one-third have been jobless for more than a year, making them ineligible for the 13-week extension in unemployment benefits authorized by the federal government last month.   The survey, commissioned by the 495 Networking Support Group, a non-profit organization representing 650 unemployed technology workers, appeared online 2 weeks ago at a site created by the group...   Tony Badman, founder of the group... said the organization wants the state to consider giving companies tax incentives to develop on-the-job training programs that would allow laid-off tech professionals to teach and utilize their skills.   Under such a plan, the tech professionals would collect unemployment benefits as a wage for working.   Currently, Badman said, only 8% of those who responded to the online survey were eligible for the second emergency extension of jobless benefits...   According to the 495NSG survey, 25% of the respondents cannot afford health insurance, 22% are living off retirement savings, 52% have not had an interview since they became unemployed, and 53% are no longer confident they will find full-time work in their profession in 2003...   Of those polled, more than 61% have bachelor of arts degrees, 18% have master's degrees, and 2% have doctoral degrees, Badman said.   He noted that 65% of the survey respondents are older than 40."

John McCaslin _Washington Times_
Curry-ency calling
"Rediff (Rediff.com) business reporter Bipin Chandran writes from New Delhi that the Republican Party has a band of young and enthusiastic fund-raisers toiling by telephone in the Indian communities of Noida and Gurgaon.   A team of 75 is now at work and 'could be ramped up depending on the success of the campaign.   These operators are required to call up people in the US seeking their support for President George W. Bush and a donation for the Republican cause.', says the story...   HCL eServe -- a business arm of Shiv Nadar's HCL Technologies -- as having 'bagged a project to undertake a fund-raising campaign for the US Republican Party over the telephone'.   However, Kevin Sheridan, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, tells Inside the Beltway that the national party has in no way, shape or form enlisted the Indian company to conduct fund raising in the name of Mr. Bush or any other nationally elected Republican in Washington."

Towards the Precipice: Robert Brenner on the crisis in the US economy
"corporate insiders from the biggest 25 companies to go bust last year - reaped $3.3G from stock sales and compensation in the 3 years before their companies went under...   When corporate scandals first hit the headlines early in 2002, the US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill attributed them to the immorality of a 'small number' of miscreants.   Apparently he'd been misinformed.   The rapacious practices of these executives and firms -- whether or not technically illegal -- are typical of, and endemic to, corporate America.   The recent scandals bear witness, however, not just to the level of individual corruption characteristic of US crony capitalism but to systemic problems in the real economy.   It is because the epidemic of fraud makes manifest the ill-health of the corporations themselves that it has taken such a heavy toll on investor confidence and the stock market.
The corporate account rigging now coming to light is the direct result of the economic boom of the late 1990s, driven by an almost unprecedented increase in equity prices.   Its raison d'etre has been entirely straightforward: to cover up the reality of an increasingly desperate corporate-profits picture.   Between 1997 and 2000, just as the fabled economic expansion was reaching its apex, the rate of profit in the non-financial corporate sector was falling by a dramatic 20%, initially as a consequence of over-capacity [sic] in international manufacturing...
From the middle of 2000, the reality of the profits crisis became apparent as a never-ending parade of corporations, including almost all the stars of the boom, were obliged to report increasingly dismal earnings.   Share prices began a steep descent, and investors gradually awoke to the reality that they had been had...   Only barely invigorated by government policy, the economy totters towards the precipice...
The reality of the expansion of the 1990s bears little resemblance to the official version.   The claim that this was an 'extraordinary' boom is belied by the Government's own figures.   In terms of the standard measures -- growth of output, capital stock, labour productivity and wages, as well as the level of unemployment -- performance in the supposedly sensational 5-year period between 1995 and 2000 barely matched the levels achieved in the 25-year period between 1948 and 1973.   The growth of labour productivity, the most important indicator of economic dynamism, was a full 20% lower.   Taking into account the whole business cycle of the decade from 1990 to 2000 and not just the 5 good years at the end, the average annual rate of growth of GDP per person was a meagre 1.6%, compared to 2.2% for the hundred-year period 1889-1989.   Even by 2000, real hourly wages for production and non-supervisory workers were still palpably below, and the poverty rate above, their 1973 bests...
Between 1990 and 1995, the advanced capitalist economies suffered their worst half-decade of the post-war epoch.   For the decade as a whole, their performance taken together was, despite the US boom, hardly better than that of the 1980s; which itself was down from the 1970s; which, in turn, had been much worse than the 1960s and 1950s...
Employers held real wage growth close to zero for the whole decade...   But the fact that the US's recovery of profitability was the result mainly of corporate down-sizing and the gouging of workers, citizens and over-seas rivals proved highly problematic for the 2 next largest economies, the Japanese and the German...
With the so-called 'reverse Plaza Accord' of summer 1995, the US Government therefore agreed with its Japanese and German counterparts to drive up the dollar.   This agreement constituted a turning point in the evolution of the world economy.   It reversed the dominant economic trends of the previous decade and, in a crucial sense, prepared the way for every major development of the next 5 years: the decline of US profitability, the historic equity price increase, the stock market-led economic boom -- and the crash and recession that have followed.   The first, and most consequential, effect of the dollar revaluation was to put an abrupt end to the decade-long recovery of US profitability.   Between 1997 and 2000 the corporate manufacturing profit rate dropped by more than 15%, so that the US economy lost what had up to this point been a major source of its momentum...
But with American wage growth flat and government demand rapidly shrinking after 1993 as the Federal deficit fell, dependence on the US market translated into ever greater dependence on the growth of US investment -- which, it was hoped, would result in greater imports both of new plant and equipment and, by way of higher employment and rising wages, of consumer goods...   Between the early 1980s and 1995, the rise of equity prices had been no greater than the rise of profits.   Henceforth, a growing chasm would open up between the 2.   As the Wilshire 5000 Index soared 65% between 1997 and 2000, corporate profits (after tax and net of interest) fell by 23%...   By late 1996, Greenspan was publicly expressing concern about the 'irrational exuberance' of share prices.   But he was clearly even more anxious, in private, about the possible stumbling of the US economy, especially as economic growth at first proved hesitant in the face of his interest-rate reductions and as turmoil shook the East Asian markets in spring 1997...
from 1995 until 1999, the money supply (M3) increased at 6 times the rate it had from 1990 until 1994, opening the way for a gigantic wave of speculation...   Wealthy households also saw their on-paper assets rise astronomically.   According to a recent Federal Reserve study, the top 20% of wealth holders could account, by themselves, for the spectacular reduction of the US household savings rate from around 8% in 1993 to zero in 2000.   In so doing, they also accounted for the increase in the rate of consumption that took place during that period, helping corporations realise their sky-rocketing investments on plant, equipment and software.   In the words of one pundit, this was the first expansion in history underwritten by 'yuppie consumption'...
Between 1996 and 2000 they took on $800G in bank debt and issued an additional $450G in bonds.   On this basis, they were able to increase investment over this period in real terms (i.e. measured in 1996 dollars) at an annual average rate of more than 15%, and to create 331K jobs...   M$, Intel, Cisco Systems, Oracle and Dell, taken together, over-stated their profits for the same period by a factor of 3...   Between 1997 and 2001, insiders cashed in some $18G in shares, unloading more than half this total in 2000, the year the price of telecoms shares peaked.   But this only scratches the surface of the titanic redistribution of wealth achieved by US corporate leaders in the 1990s.   Between 1995 and 1999, the value of stock options granted to US executives more than quadrupled, from $26.5G to $110G, or one fifth of non-financial corporate profits, net of interest.   In 1992, corporate CEOs held 2% of the equity of US corporations; today, they own 12%...
By 2000 the [telecommunications] industry was responsible for 12% of spending on equipment in the US economy.   But telecoms investment plunged by 40% over the next 2 years.   Since 2000 December telecoms companies with a combined worth of $230G have gone bankrupt, and 60% of all corporate defaults have come from this sector.   During the same period, the industry laid off more than half a million workers -- 50% more than it had hired in the spectacular expansion between 1996 and 2000.   By comparison, the car industry took 2 decades to reduce employment from 1.5M to 732K...
The problems in telecoms overlapped with a more general crisis in the high-tech sector, especially in computers and semiconductors.   The depth of this crisis was revealed in an analysis, published on 2001 August 16 in the Wall Street Journal, of the 4200 companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Index.   The losses these firms reported in the 12 months following 2000 July 1 amounted to $148.3G -- IOW, slightly more than the $145.3G profits they had reported during the 5-year boom of 1995 to 2000...   Since the first quarter of 2000, manufacturing employment (measured in hours) has been reduced by a stunning 13.8%...   Investment in plants and equipment, the key to economic health, has fallen every single quarter since autumn 2000, driving the recession."


2003-02-06 21:05PST (2003-02-07 00:05EST) (2003-02-07 05:05GMT)
Jeff Drake _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Taking the offensive on identity theft: 3 keys to curbing growth in crime
"It's ironic that as most other types of crime are declining, identity theft is booming -- doubling to roughly 162K cases last year -- which has made identity theft the leading consumer fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission.   The FTC reports that as many as 700K consumers may be victims of identity theft this year, costing each person an average of $1K...   First, shut the door on former employees and temporary employees who maintain valid company IDs and passwords.   With employee turnover running at 100% in industries like retail, it's not unusual for 20% of company accounts to belong to employees who haven't worked for the organization for 5 years or longer...   An even bigger inside problem is current employees who have unrestricted access to company systems and data unrelated to their job responsibility.   Security policy should restrict employee access to pertinent areas of the business...   today's homegrown security code is highly vulnerable to hacker attack...   Third, organizations need to randomize data to protect individual customer identity and privacy."

2003-02-06 23:32PST (2003-02-07 02:32EST) (2003-02-07 07:32GMT)
India, Red China Bullish on 2003 IT Spending
"About half of Asia's private companies plan to increase spending on information technology this year, with most activity focused on maintaining existing systems, according to a survey released on Friday...   Indian companies were the most bullish in the region, with more than 67% indicating they planned to increase IT spending this year from 2002, according to IDC Asia/Pacific, which polled nearly 900 executives.   Chinese companies were also bullish, with 55% saying they planned to increase IT spending.   At the other end of the spectrum, Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese firms were the most bearish, with more than 60% in each country saying they planned to keep their 2003 IT spending at or below previous year levels.   [So, as we travel the scale from least free to most free the worse the economic future appears.]"

Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonslly adjusted US jobless rate falls to 5.7%
"The US jobless rate fell to 5.7% in January from 6% in December as businesses added about 143K workers, the Labor Department said Friday.   It was the strongest job growth since 2000 November, but the number may over-state the pace of actual hiring in the economy.   Excluding the 101K jobs added in retail, the economy added 42K jobs in January.   Average hourly earnings were flat.   Total hours worked in the economoy rose 0.3%, the first gain since October."

2003-02-07 07:01PST (10:01EST) (15:01GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US jobless rate falls to 5.7%: Firms add 143K jobs, 2-thirds in retail
"The US jobless rate fell to 5.7% in January from 6% in December as businesses added about 143K workers, the Labor Department said Friday...   About 2-thirds of the job growth -- 101K jobs -- was in the retail sector, which largely offset a 99K decline in December.   Because of the way the government adjusts the figures for seasonal factors, both December's loss and January's gains in retail are probably illusory...   However, temporary help services cut 2K jobs in January, a sign that many firms do not feel the need to add even marginal workers to their work-force.   The total number of hours worked in the economy rose 0.3%, the first increase since October.   The average work-week rose to 34.2 hour, a 6-minute improvement.   Average hours in manufacturing, however, fell by 6 minutes to 40.8 hours.   Average hourly earnings were flat in January at $14.98.   Hourly wages are up just 2.7% in the past year, the lowest rate [of increase] in about 8 years."

2003-02-07 08:41PST (11:41EST) (16:41GMT)
Jobless rate slides: Rate dips to 5.7%, pay-rolls grow at fastest rate in 2 years, but analysts express caution.
"The US unemployment rate dropped and employers added 143K jobs to pay-rolls -- the biggest number in more than 2 years -- the government said Friday, better news for the labor market than economists expected.   The Labor Department said 5.7% of the nation's labor force was unemployed in January, down from 6% in December.   The job growth was the biggest since 199K in 2000 November and followed a revised loss of 156K jobs outside the farm sector in December...   Bernstein and other economists noted, however, that the strength in the pay-roll figure was due largely to seasonal adjustments...   In a hopeful sign from Friday's report, the labor force -- the number of people either working or out of work and looking for a job -- grew by 328K to about 145.8M...   Of that work force, about 8.3M people are unemployed, down from 8.7M in December.   The government estimated 74.1M people are not in the labor force...   On a disappointing note, average wages were flat at $14.98 an hour in January...   The average work-week for non-supervisory employees rose to 34.2 hours from 34.1 in December, but manufacturing and over-time hours both edged lower."

2003-02-07 09:51PST (12:51EST) (17:51GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Treasury's Snow pledges stimulus fight
"As he took the formal oath of office alongside President Bush, former rail-road executive John Snow pledged Friday to make his first priority as Treasury secretary the fight for his boss's economic-stimulus package...   Citing a government report Friday that revealed a drop in the US unemployment rate to 5.7%, Bush said his administration 'will not be satisfied until this economy grows fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job'.   Bush submitted to Congress a $2.23T budget plan for fiscal 2004 on Monday, calling on lawmakers to boost spending on defense and overhaul key social programs while enacting $1.5T in new tax cuts over the next 11 years."

2003-02-07 13:10PST (16:10EST) (21:10GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Greenspan in no mood to celebrate: What more can be expected from a central bank?
"Most of 2002's growth came from government spending or consumer spending on interest-sensitive goods like houses and cars...   The economy is stagnant, but the Federal Reserve and the Congress are both running out of effective ammunition [that they are willing to expend]...   With growth of 2.8% in the past 4 quarters, 'there's no way under the sun that you can argue we're still in a recession.', Mayland said.   'What goes unreported and unappreciated is how bad it might have been had not monetary policy been as aggressively easy as it was.', Mayland said...   The theory has been that businesses are reluctant to hire and spend during such a time of uncertainty...   Greenspan has already strongly endorsed the elimination of double taxation of dividends, but he's backed it on the grounds that it would improve corporate governance, not because it would raise the economy's growth potential."

Leigh Strope _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Seasonally adjusted US Unemployment Rate Drops in January
"The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 5.7% in January as businesses added 143K new jobs, a shot of good news for an ailing economy.   The increase in pay-roll jobs, mostly in the retail area, was the largest since 2000 November, said Friday's Labor Department report.   The overall rate dropped by 0.3 percentage point from the 6% rate in December that matched an 8-year high...   The surge in new jobs was concentrated in stores, restaurants and bars last month, which added 101K new positions...   The job growth marks a major improvement over December, when businesses cut 156K jobs, according to revised figures...   economists expect the unemployment rate to rise to as high as 6.5% during the summer."

Ivelisse de Jesus _New Jersey Star-Ledger_
Teacher agency fined for labor violations
"Long Island-based teacher-recruiting agency that placed 15 Indian teachers in Newark class-rooms violated labor laws and will have to pay the teachers hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages, a government investigation this week concluded.   The U.S. Department of Labor fined Teachers Placement Group Inc., company founder Michael Vanjani and his wife, Radha Vanjani, company president, $120K in penalties for their illegal treatment of the teachers.   The department also charged the company and the Vanjanis with willfully failing to pay the teachers wages, discriminating against the teachers and failing to comply with other immigration laws.   The company and the Vanjanis have been ordered to pay the teachers almost $200K in back wages."


Edward Alden _Financial Times of London_
Ashcroft seeks new spying powers for terror hunt
"According to a confidential draft dated January 9, the legislation would end an array of court-ordered restraints that prevent local police forces from spying on domestic groups or individuals suspected of terrorist activities.   It would also automatically deny bail for anyone accused of a terrorist-related crime and bar the release of any information about individuals detained in terrorism investigations, for fear of tipping off co-conspirators...   Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003..."


Steve Giegerich _AP_/_AZ Central_
Job-hungry alums flood college career services
"College seniors are finding some unexpected company this semester as they visit their schools' career services offices: alumni who also want help landing a job in a slow economy...   At the University of Pennsylvania, alumni account for 15% of the clients seeking career counseling, up from the 10% who used the service when the economy was strong."

2003-02-09 09:04PST (12:04EST) (17:04GMT)
Margaret Quan _EE Times_
IEEE-USA asks for roll-back of H-1B visa quotas
"IEEE-USA is protesting the US Immigration and Naturalization Service's continuing issuance of H-1B visas to foreign workers while unemployment levels remain high for electrical engineers and computer scientists.   The INS issued 79,100 first-time H-1B visas in the 2002 fiscal year ended September 30, according to agency statistics.   The US Department of Labor reported that 120K electrical engineers and computer scientists were unemployed in the fourth quarter of 2002.   In addition to the first-time H-1B visas issued in fiscal 2002, the INS allowed '[an] estimated 215K extensions and initial H-1B visas granted in exempt categories such as non-profits, laboratories and colleges.', the IEEE-USA said in a statement.   That swelled the number of H-1B visas 'to more than 294K' for the fiscal year, the group said...   The unemployment rate for EEs was 1.3% in 2000, but has more than tripled since then...   26K electrical and electronics engineers and 94K computer scientists were to be unemployed in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2002.   The unemployment rate for EEs in that quarter was 3.9%, down slightly from 4.0% in the third quarter.   The unemployment rate for computer scientists was 5.1% in the fourth quarter, up from 4.6% in the third quarter."

Aldo Svaldi _Denver Post_
Colorado still lures job seekers: Migrants find plethora of work no longer exists
"20K more people moved to [Colorado] than left it last year, despite an economy that shed at least 32K jobs...   Colorado boasted the country's fourth-fastest job growth rate during the 1990s as it churned out thousands of technology, telecommunications and service jobs.   The state created so many jobs that an average of 70,000 net newcomers a year moved here during that decade.   Even then, the unemployment rate kept falling...   'Migration always continues past the point beyond where it makes sense.', [Tracy] Clark [a professor of regional economics at the AZ State U] said.   'I am not sure the message always gets through in the form it needs to.' Colorado needed to produce about 8K jobs for the newcomers it received last year; instead it suffered its greatest job losses since the Great Depression...   US Bank regional economist Tucker Hart Adams estimates the state needs job growth of about 2% a year just to meet its own internal growth.   But the state will likely see job growth of only 1% this year, according to a forecast from the University of Colorado at Boulder.   And even that prediction may prove optimistic."

_San Jose Mercury News_
Tech crash creates generational divide
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"For the Silicon Valley workers most deeply affected by the implosion of the tech sector, the real impact of the down-turn can't be measured by money alone.   It is just as much about time -- time invested in a career, time to rebuild ruined finances, time to hang on for the cycle of innovation to turn yet again...   For many workers in their 20s who came to the valley to ride the dot-com wave, the current recession is at worst a minor set-back, not a life-altering event.   Those in their 30s had farther to fall.   But with time to start anew, they've come to see the down-turn as a chance to re-examine the role of work in their lives.   Most in their 40s don't have time for introspection.   They worry about just surviving in a world of diminishing choices.   And many tech veterans in their 50s enter the final stages of their working lives facing a dilemma: They cannot afford to retire, yet they are at a disadvantage in a job market that favors younger workers with cutting-edge skills.   For them, any tech recovery may come too late."
NBER says recession that troughed in 2001 April ended 2001 November.   The stock market crashed 2000-03-10.   The STEM job markets were already diving by 2000 September, and general job markets in mid-2001.   STEM product sales were tanking all through 2001 and 2002.   Job markets still had not fully recovered by the end of 2016.

Joelle Tessler _San Jose Mercury News_
A time to embrace life: Workers in their 30s rethink their priorities
"While tech workers in their 20s had little to lose when the bubble burst, those just a bit farther along on the career curve paid a price.   But the down-turn has not been without its blessings.   For many in their 30s, the economic collapse has become a time to rethink priorities and find an identity outside of work.   Some, disenchanted with the excesses of the dot-com era, are walking away from tech and the valley...   One thing many are reflecting on is the sacrifice their families made during the boom years.   They vow that work will no longer come at the expense of their kids...   Arturo Munoz... said... 'I wasn't aligning my goals to my values.'...   For some in their 30s, the down-turn has been an opportunity to find true happiness..."


Eric Chabrow, Marianne Kolbasuk McGee _Information Week_
Budget short-falls mean state IT managers and law-makers face the same tough choices as their private-sector peers
"States started to feel the impact of the economic slow-down in 2001, and it hit in full force by 2002, when 37 had to prune nearly $13G from existing budgets, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers...   State governments, on average, allocate 4% of their budgets to IT...   Whatever happens, state IT managers expect to go forward with less money and fewer workers.   Many states are likely to follow the example of Connecticut, which recently laid off 120 IT workers, 8% of its IT work-force, and Ohio, which has let go 92 tech people, 22% of its central IT group.   An _InformationWeek_ Research survey last month of 200 IT managers found that nearly a third of state government IT managers say they expect job reductions this year, and only 4% will do any hiring...   California CIO Kelso says his main challenge is a 9-month-old hiring freeze that could cause problems if it continues, since nearly a third of his IT work-force becomes eligible to retire during the next 5 years...   Florida, even though it's not facing a budget deficit, is requiring agencies to cut spending by 5% to 10% and has set up an oversight board to approve all budget requests.   Part of the board's role is to enforce coordination and standardization among agencies.   For IT, the net result has been fewer projects: 166 requests were pared down to 33, CIO Kimberly Bahrami says."

Geoff Metcalf _NewsMax.com_
Terrorists Beware
"Now is the time for all Americans to acknowledge their God-given right to defend themselves and their families.   The late Dr. Robert Humphries also asserted that we have an obligation to protect each other (others).   Jack Hoban memorialized the philosophy of Dr. Humphries in 'The Warrior Creed': 'Wherever I go, everyone is a little bit safer because I am there.   Wherever I am, anyone in need has a friend.   Whenever I return home, everyone is happy I am there.'   The most dependable and efficient tools with which to defend life and property are firearms...   John F. Kennedy once said, 'Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.'"

Bob Herbert _NY Times_
A Crush of Applicants
"Huge, unexplained traffic jams began building up on the North Side of Chicago last Tuesday morning...   The traffic crush was caused by people desperate for jobs...   Chicagoans by the thousands responded, turning out in bitterly cold weather for a shot at gainful employment.   The first arrivals showed up well before dawn.   By 07:00 more than 2K people had lined up outside Truman College, and the hopefuls kept coming throughout the morning.   They shivered, and tears from the cold ran down some of their faces.   It was like a scene out of the Depression.   The rumors were false.   No job applications were being accepted.   City officials said an 'orientation' session was being held at the college to identify candidates who might be qualified for relatively low-paying jobs that might materialize in the distant future -- next year, maybe -- at a supplier of parts for Ford...   If you want to see desperation close up, look at the eyes of the increasing numbers of breadwinners who can't find work.   As Tuesday's fiasco in Chicago demonstrated, the situation is much worse than official unemployment statistics would indicate...   The ranks of these so-called discouraged workers have grown by more than a million since last summer...   Nearly 2M of the officially counted unemployed have been out of work for 3 months or more.   That group is now 3 times larger than it was 2 years ago.   Many of those fortunate enough to be working are struggling nevertheless.   Raises are fewer and skimpier, barely keeping pace with inflation.   More and more young college graduates are accepting jobs that used to be handled by people with just a high school diploma, waiting tables or working as clerks or construction laborers.   Dr. Andrew Sum of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston mentioned the phenomenon of 'queuing down'.   As workers are forced to take jobs beneath their qualifications they displace members of the group immediately below them.   'Older adults looking for jobs are bumping the younger kids down.', he said.   'The college kids are bumping down the kids who graduated high school.   And the kids from high school are bumping out the kids with no diploma.'"

WKMG to do story on H-1B and L-1 visas
"Congress has passed laws to allow corporations to import foreign workers to replace American workers.   I am surrounded by Indians from India in Lake Mary, FL; over 20 of them specifically here to replace American workers.   We are mandated to train them then we will be laid off...   WKMG producer Terri Spitz has some exciting news for those of you that can pick up that TV station.   They are doing a show on H-1B and L-1 visas starting next week.   Michael Emmons, a victim of the L-1 Visa had a major part in getting their attention on the L-1 visa."
video coverage 2003-02-16
2003-02-17 19:38EST print story
jobs, privacy leaving: billboard1
WKMG video Sunday
WKMG video Monday
WKMG video Tuesday
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Elizabeth Becker _NY Times_
US Ready to End Tariffs on Textiles in Hemisphere
"As the first stage in negotiations to expand free trade throughout the Western Hemisphere, the Bush administration is offering to lift all tariffs on textiles and apparel within 5 years.   The proposal will be presented on Tuesday by Robert B. Zoellick, the United States trade representative, who prepared the offer to cover duties on everything from beef to lamps while making special concessions for the poorest nations, a senior trade official said.   The goal, Mr. Zoellick said, is the eventual elimination of duties on goods and services from throughout North and South America...   The United States and nearly every other country in the Western Hemisphere agreed in November on a blueprint for a Free Trade Area of the Americas with the goal of essentially expanding the existing North American Free Trade Agreement to all countries in the hemisphere, with the exception of Cuba, by 2005 January...   In 2 years, all textile quotas worldwide will be eliminated and [Red China] will be free to flood the market with its goods.   If a Western Hemisphere trade agreement is reached, Latin American countries would have a better chance of selling their apparel and cloth in the United States if current tariffs -- ranging from 12% to 17% -- were dropped...   Last year, the United States approved an 80% increase in farm subsidies, promising to pay the nation's biggest producers nearly $180G over 10 years to grow wheat, corn, soy beans, rice and cotton.   One-third of those crops are exported, amounting to a huge unfair trade barrier, according to many agricultural and trade experts.   The administration says that it will not abandon the farm subsidies until Europe does the same through negotiations at the World Trade Organization."

Joelle Tessler _San Jose Mercury News_
Workers in their 40s feel trapped
"While younger workers still have the time and flexibility to change direction and rediscover themselves after a lay-off, those in their 40s are too far along in their careers and too established in their lives to start over without serious consequences.   Their overwhelming fear: a career that is sliding backward...   Many in their 40s say that for the first time in their careers, they can no longer call the shots in a job market that prizes youth.   'One of the rudest awakenings for people in the 40-plus age group who are highly educated and highly skilled is finding that 40 is over the hill.', said Kitty Wilson, director of ProMatch, a Sunnyvale career center.   'It's a shock to realize you're not the hot candidate anymore.'...   'The attitude was that if you have a good education and work hard enough, things will work out.' said Charles Darrah, a cultural anthropologist at San Jose State University.   'But now there are a lot of highly skilled, highly competent people who can't get jobs, so this is a real blow to their self esteem.'...   A year and a half later, Ralston has sent out more than 3,500 resumes and still doesn't have regular work."

Joelle Tessler _San Jose Mercury News_
Time running out for valley tech veterans: Older workers struggle to reinvent themselves
"The down-turn has consigned some tech workers in their 50s to a sort of career purgatory.   With their savings decimated, retirement is not an option.   But they face intense competition in the job market from younger workers who have also been displaced.   And, in some cases, they battle age discrimination...   Mary Lynne Schoenbeck, a Los Altos career consultant, sees many in their 50s who are pushing back retirement after watching their savings dry up.   She sees others who are nearing retirement age but had planned to keep working only to have 'retirement thrust upon them' by a lay-off...   Employers keep telling Kolluri that he is either overqualified or doesn't have the exact qualifications they are looking for.   And while he cannot prove it, Kolluri suspects he is running into age discrimination because his resume is so long."

Maria M. Perotin _Dallas Star-Telegram_
Hiring Hubub: As technology lay-offs increase, criticism of H-1B visas mounts
"Since losing his technology job more than a year ago, Gene Nelson [PhD] has landed a handful of contracts but nothing with a steady pay-check.   He has applied for countless positions, touting his doctoral degree and his varied work experience.   But with the tech sector in an economic free fall, the Carrollton resident has found corporate lay-off announcements far easier to come by than job openings.   Yet at the same time, US employers have been filling jobs with thousands of skilled foreign-born workers on temporary visas -- sometimes hiring in one department while workers are being laid off in others...   But critics such as Nelson insist that no such worker shortage exists, particularly now that ailing tech companies have eliminated positions in wave after wave of mass lay-offs.   To stress that point, Nelson intends to hold a rally Wednesday in Dallas, picketing with other out-of-work engineers and handing out leaflets opposing the visa program...   US employers added 79,100 new H-1B visa holders to their pay-rolls during the 2002 fiscal year that ended in September, a 52% drop from 2001, according to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service...   The INS received 215K H-1B petitions for initial and renewing applicants during the 2002 fiscal year, down 37% from 2001...   The hiring decline wasn't enough to appease members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a technical professional society that has pushed to reduce the available visas.   Instead of relying on H-1B employees, the group advocates greater hiring of an estimated 120K engineers, computer programmers and systems analysts who are unemployed nationwide.   'We're not against any US company who truly, truly cannot find somebody to fill a job to go over-seas and get somebody.', IEEE-USA spokesman Chris McManes says.   'But we think, for the most part, they could find somebody here.'"

Robertson Morrow _American Conservative_
Living in the Bubble: Government guarantees, global capital flows, and a consumption binge add up to a national mortgage crisis.
"As a percentage of personal income, mortgage debt has risen from 51% 25 years ago to over 100% today. In the last 5 years, mortgage debt has risen by 60% , or $2.2T, an amount roughly the same as the profits of every American corporation for the last 5 years and twice [Red China]ís exports to the entire world... Not only is 20% of mortgage debt sold to foreign banks and other foreign buyers outright, but modern finance has made all liquid instruments de facto fungible. Even when foreigners buy other American financial assets, they are propping up a market of which mortgages are a part. Take the foreign buyers out of the equation and the whole thing collapses, and plentiful, cheap mortgage debt is no longer available to Americans."


2003-02-10 19:06PST (2003-02-10 22:06EST) (2003-02-11 03:06GMT)
Ted Rall _Yahoo!_
Student Loans Are for Suckers: The Fleecing of Our Youth
"Five years ago, I wrote a story called 'College Is For Suckers'.   I argued that the costs of tuition, dorms and fees had risen so high that the additional income you'd earn as a college graduate -- compared to going straight to work after high school -- wouldn't make up for the massive student loan debts you'd acquire...   The pre-bankrupting of America's best and brightest, the young men and women who attend private colleges and public universities, is one of our nation's enduring, quiet scandals.   Momentarily breaking the silence was a January 28 New York Times profile of young adults who, because of their student loans, are forced to choose jobs solely based on pay...   Average tuition and fees at a private college or university is $18K and rising at twice the inflation rate.   Meanwhile, what students call 'real' financial aid -- grants and scholarships, not loans -- keeps falling.   The result is 2-fold.   The Rand Corporation estimates that 6M Americans will be 'priced out of the system' over the next 2 decades.   And for those who bite the bullet, more students than ever (46% in 1990, 70% in 2000) end up taking out college loans.   The US college industry churns out about a million newly-minted graduates every year.   On average, they owe $27,600 to creditors they can't shake even by declaring bankruptcy...   Student loan debt has become even more burdensome as the US enters its third consecutive year of recession.   59% of degreed job seekers have been looking for work for at least 3 months, some for as long as a year...   The National Association of Colleges and Employers says that average starting salaries for the Class of 2002 range from $27K for political science majors to $51K for computer programmers.   Around $35K is the national norm...   College tuition is free or nominal in most industrialized, and many Third World, countries.   The United States' insistence that students assume huge debts to pay for their college education is unusual enough that the [Red Chinese] government included it in its 2001 report of 'American human rights violations'."

2003-02-11 13:47PST (16:47EST) (21:47GMT)
William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US aims to jump-start trade talks: Would eliminate duties on W. Hemisphere textiles, apparel
"The Bush administration's top trade negotiator, in a gambit apparently designed to jump-start stalled negotiations, laid out an ambitious plan that would eliminate duties on all textiles and apparel manufactured in the Western Hemisphere.   The measure is part of an overall proposal to eliminate US import duties on most industrial and agricultural products produced in the hemisphere as part of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas...   Overall, 65% of consumer and industrial goods imported from other hemispheric trade partners would enter the United States duty-free as soon as the agreement was enacted.   All duties on consumer and industrial products would be eliminated by 2015."

2003-02-11 14:18PST (17:18EST) (22:18GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_ Greenspan: No stimulus needed now: War prospects, taxes dominate Fed chairman's testimony
"Greenspan said it was likely that the reluctance of companies to hire and spend would dissipate once the situation over Iraq and UN weapons inspections has been resolved.   The good news: Households are not overly burdened by debt and inventories are lean."

Diane Alden _NewsMax_
H-1B: Bombing the Middle Class
Rob Sanchez: Job Destruction News-Letter
"H-1B and L-1 Visas: A Bipartisan Approach for Killing Off the Middle Class.   Who is the cheap labor lobby?   That lobby includes limousine liberals like Bill Gates and nominal conservatives such as Michael Barone.   In addition, the lobby involves nice upper middle class people who need inexpensive child-care workers, domestics and gardeners...   According to Matloff: There is a broad consensus that the H-1Bs are indeed exploited in terms of wages and working conditions.   This was found in:   1. The study at UCLA, which found that the immigrant engineers were paid 33% less than comparable Americans.   2. The study at Cornell University, which found underpayment of H-1B programmers and engineers by 20%-30%.   3. My study at UC Davis, finding that immigrant programmers and electrical engineers were paid 15-20% less than comparable Americans.   4. The report by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which found that the computer-related H-1Bs were paid a median of $53K per year, far below the national median of $66K for this field.   5. The audit done by the Department of Labor, finding that 19% of the H-1Bs were not even paid the salaries promised by the employers on the visa application forms.   6. The report by the National Research Council, which found that ''H-1B workers requiring lower levels of IT skill received lower wages, less senior job titles, smaller signing bonuses, and smaller pay and compensation increases than would be typical for the work they did''.   7. Articles in respected, pro-business publications such as Forbes Magazine (''Indian programmers working in the U.S.A. on temporary H-1B visas typically earn 25% to 30% less than their naturalized colleagues'') and the Wall Street Journal (''Recruiting foreign talent is cheaper than hiring Americans'').   8. Statements by the H-1Bs themselves, who have formed the national organization ISN with a goal of persuading Congress to reform the program.   One need not even use data sets to see the problem.   Most H-1Bs are de facto indentured servants, unable to switch jobs.   Thus they cannot leave for a higher-paying job elsewhere, nor can they negotiate higher wages with their present employers by threatening to leave.   So, they have lesser opportunities than do normal workers who are free to move about in the market.   Thus it is indisputable, from basic economic principles, that on average they are making less money than they would if they had their freedom.   So it is that in the last 20 years the fiction was created that there is a shortage of American workers to do certain jobs.   That fiction benefited the economic and political elite as the importation of cheap labor helped the bottom line, voting blocs were created and, for the most part, states bore the social costs for the federal government's 'big heart'.   In fact, we have witnessed the dumping of large numbers of humanity from Third World cultures for social, economic and political reasons.   This is not class warfare; this is about pointing out how the system has been warped by the continued misuse of influence and the law in order to give special privilege to one group of Americans over another.   Let's not mention turning simple justice and the rule of law on its head."

Carol Kleiman _Chicago Tribune_
For 2 women, job sharing is no after-thought
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"The way a job share usually works is that 2 people currently employed who seek more flexibility in their lives negotiate to fill one job.   It's challenging, because few employers understand that job sharing, when done correctly, not only benefits the workers involved but gives the employer 2 skilled workers instead of one.   Here's how it usually operates: Each job sharer works 2 days alone and one day overlapping with the other so that the employer is fully covered and each job sharer knows what the other is doing...   [Some shared-job seekers] use a joint resume...   This time, in a slow economy, they're emphasizing that they share one salary and need no benefits because they're covered by their spouses' insurance."


2003-02-11 21:01PST (2003-02-12 00:01EST) (2003-02-12 05:01GMT)
Chuck Jaffe _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Harsh medicine for financial health
"Everyone you meet says they've been hurt by the sour economy and the wretched stock market.   But they don't necessarily live like they're in pain.   And while that trend makes life more comfortable now, it could make the future hurt all the more excruciating...   While many people claim to have cut back, perhaps holding onto their cars a bit longer or taking lesser vacations, the numbers speak to an American consumer who is borrowing more, refinancing mortgage debts and taking some equity out of the house in the process and spending at levels that are reasonably consistent with the stock market's headiest days in the 1990s...   The news stories cover the obvious choices for people clawed by the bear market.   There are the older savers, living on a fixed income, who have watched their cash flow dry up as interest rates evaporate.   There are the people who have lost jobs and had trouble replacing their income.   But for everyone else, the consequences of the long downturn are less obvious...   As a general rule, most investors only make a lifestyle change when confronted by drastic circumstances."

2003-02-12 10:26PST (13:26EST) (18:26GMT)
Rachel Koning & Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Fed chief lauds merits of dividend plan: Greenspan stresses plan should be revenue neutral
"OTOH, Alan Greenspan thinks that, sometimes, cutting taxes is a good idea...   And he reiterated that he does not believe the economy needs any boost from the Congress or the Fed anytime soon...   The Fed chief found himself defending his belief that eliminating the double taxation will bring a 'net benefit to virtually everyone in the economy over the long run'...   He said dividend reform should be revenue neutral, meaning the costs of giving investors a tax cut should be paid for with either tax hikes elsewhere or spending reductions...   The Federal Open Market Committee is now forecasting growth of 3 to 3.75% in 2003, he reported, compared with 2.8% growth seen in the economy in 2002...   In Greenspan's judgment and that of his colleagues, diminishing the war risks should allow the economy to recover.   But he tempered this by saying it's possible that 'other constraints' to expansion would remain once a war is settled.   In that case, 'various initiatives for conventional monetary and fiscal stimulus will doubtless move higher on the policy agenda', said Greenspan."

2003-02-12 01:51PST (04:51EST) (09:51GMT)
UK Unemployment drops to 27-year low
"The number of people out of work and claiming benefit has fallen for the seventh month in a row in January to a fresh, 27-year low.   The Office for National Statistics said 928,500 people were on the 'dole' last month, a bigger than expected fall of 3,500 on the month.   The December figure, however, was revised up slightly to 932K.   That is equivalent to just 3.1% of the work-force...   On that Labour Force Survey measure, unemployment fell to 1.506M in October to December of last year, down a hefty 36K on the previous 3 months and 3K lower than the same period a year earlier.   That gave an unemployment rate of 5.1% compared to 5.3% in the third quarter of the year...   There was also good news in the employment figures which showed 27.8M people in work in the final quarter, a rise of 150K on the previous quarter to the highest level since records began in 1984."

2003-02-12 13:17PST (16:17EST) (21:17GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks close at 4-month lows
"The Dow Jones Industrials Average slumped down 85 points, or 1.1%, to 7,758 and the S&P 500 Index fell 11 points, or 1.3%, to 819.   It was the sixth time the indexes lost ground in the last seven sessions.   The Nasdaq Composite fell 17 points, or 1.3%, to 1,279, its fifth loss in seven sessions."

David Leonhardt _NY Times_
"A mathematics or computer science degree does not offer the job guarantee it once did.   The unemployment rate for mathematicians and computer scientists jumped to about 5% at the end of last year from about 1% in 1997.   Before the recent spike, the peak was about 3% in the early 1990's, according to Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, who looked at 20 years of data.   Comparing the well-being of this group with the job market as a whole shows how painful the implosion of the technology bubble has been for many white-collar workers.   In 1982, the nation's jobless rate topped 10%, but it remained below 2% for mathematicians and computer scientists.   Late last year, the overall jobless rate hovered around 6%, only slightly more than it was for number crunchers and computer geeks."

Juana Jordan _Tallahassee Democrat_
More and more professionals are here to serve
"A survey conducted a little more than a year ago said it all: More than 800 new jobs would open up in the Tallahassee area.   And about 50% of them would be in the service sector.   The services sector is growing.   In 2002, it grew at the rate of 3.1%, out-performing the job market overall, which grew at a rate of 1.9%.   The Agency for Work-force Innovation reported that the Tallahassee area gained 1,500 jobs in the services sector this past year.   Of those, 700 were in the professional business sector.   Jobs that make up the business services sector include consulting, accounting and bookkeeping services, architectural and engineering services and legal services...   More than 2.7M of Florida's jobs are in the services industry.   About 50K of them are in Tallahassee.   And of those, 11,500 are in the business services industry.   From 1989 to 1995, the services sector grew by 5.8%.   Business services grew by 9.4%.   'There's a greater demand for professionals here.', said E. Ray Canterbery, professor of economics at Florida State University.   'In the capital city, you have a rotation of people in and out of public service, who normally go back into the business sector.'...   In Tallahassee, the primary drivers of the service sector are the health care industry, state government and the universities, according to Lynn Reaser, Chief Economist and senior market strategist for Banc of America Capital Management...   At least 70% of clients needing assistance from Florida State University's Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship want to start a service-related business...   'it's cheaper to start a service business than a manufacturing business.', said Jerry Osteryoung, director of the entrepreneurship program at Florida State University.   Osteryoung is also the executive director of FSU's Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship and a _Democrat_ columnist."

New Delhi helping Baghdad
"India is actively supporting Iraq in developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), a recently published British dossier has revealed.   According to the dossier, an Indian firm, NEC Engineers, established a plant at Al-Mamon for production of ammonium percolate, a key ingredient for building solid propellant rocket motors.   Besides, chlorine plant at a suspected chemical weapons facility at Al-Fallujah has also been set up by Indian scientists."

Saritha Rai _NY Times_
Software Success Has India Worried
"Is the United States going to start turning its back on [off-shore] out-sourcing, the life-blood of India's software and services industry?...   After the eFunds Corporation of Scottsdale, AZ, a contractor hired by the State of New Jersey to manage a welfare and food-stamp program, moved its customer-service operations to Bombay from Wisconsin, a New Jersey legislator, Shirley K. Turner, introduced a bill that would require that workers hired under state contracts be American citizens or legal aliens or they occupy some specialty niche that American workers cannot be found to fill.   'I say it's time to bring 'em back from Bombay.', Senator Turner said of the client service jobs currently based in India, a news release stated.   Connecticut, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Missouri have also begun considering such laws...   More than half the world's top 500 companies, including General Electric and American Express, out-source work to India...   National Association of Software and Services Companies... known as Nasscom [a lobbying group for indian tech executives and government], organized this week's conference...   Nasscom has recently engaged the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton to work with businesses and politicians in the United States to counter the opposition toward out-sourcing to India and to increase the global brand equity of the Indian software industry."

Joel Mowbray _Town Hall_ Saudi slavery in the USA


2003-02-13 04:00PST (07:00EST) (12:00GMT)
Michael Kanellos _CNET_
Explaining the Brain Drain
"With its anti-lay-off laws, getting employees in France isn't like hiring day laborers in a parking lot...   First, the educational system needs to be strengthened so that more high-school graduates will eventually be directed toward the most challenging fields.   Better explaining the field to high school students will also help..."

2003-02-13 08:47PST (11:47EST) (16:47GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Jobless claims hover below key 400K
"The closely watched 4-week moving average of first-time benefits requests rose 3,500 to 389K, the Labor Department said Thursday...   For just the week ended February 8, initial claims fell 18,000 to 377K.   It was the third straight week that benefits requests declined.   Both figures remain below the 400K-mark that economists say denotes an improving or worsening lay-off situation.   The 4-week average has been sub-400K since the start of the year...   the number of continuous jobless claims was 3.31M, down 12K, and the 4-week average of continuous claims fell to its lowest level - 3.32M -- since 2001 September, Labor figures showed.   But economists have warned that part of the declining continuous claims number is due to the expiration of benefits rather than individuals finding jobs.   The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6% for the week ended February 1, unchanged from the previous week, and down slightly from 2.7% a year earlier."

Rachel Sams _Tallahassee Democrat_
We're growing despite shaky national economy
"The national economy still looks bleak, but Tallahassee's economy is growing in ways both large and small.   Tallahassee has always been a state government town, and its dependence on government has historically given it a layer of insulation from the national economy's ups and downs.   Gov. Jeb Bush, now in his second term, has sought to shrink the size of government.   As in past years, Bush's proposed budget includes the elimination of thousands of state jobs...   schools, colleges and universities have millions of dollars in construction going on...   [homes, banks]   the service sector is growing faster than the rest of the economy.   That's particularly true in Tallahassee, as state government continues to out-source duties.   The service sector's growth is particularly apparent in the local restaurant industry.   Tallahassee's unique make-up may have something to do with that; the town has 50K college students seeking a cheap meal out as well as thousands of politicians and attorneys looking for a power lunch...   The city showed stronger sales growth last year than the rest of Florida...   The telecommunications industry, on the other hand, has been battered by the national economic downturn...   The city of Tallahassee is considering spending millions of dollars on new ventures with the downtown Digital Canopy high-speed wireless network, which Sprint strongly opposes."

Robert X. Cringely _PBS_
How to Avoid the Almost Certain End of Sun Microsystems
"Every 5 to 10 years, Silicon Valley goes broke.   This began in the 1950s and maybe long before...   It is fitting that Shockley Semiconductor -- the first of many transistor companies -- was started in a shed previously used for drying apricots...   A few familiar names survived from each era, but most of the companies went out of business because that's the way it is.   We burn our fields in Silicon Valley, then plow the ashes under and start anew.   It is perfectly natural, then, for companies to die here...   The problem is that Sun has no real technical leadership.   CEO Scott McNealy doesn't know what to do with the company.   Ed Zander is gone, which is good, but that means it has been years since the company had anything like charismatic or visionary leadership...   Steve Jobs has done an excellent job of turning Apple into a boutique computer company.   He can move Apple quickly to stay ahead of the market as he is doing right now shifting the company more and more into notebooks, about the only PC area that is still growing.   But Jobs couldn't do the same thing with a post-merger Apple/Sun.   The company would be too big and the cash reserves would be too low.   The competition -- again M$ and IBM -- would be too big and too rich.   Steve is ambitious, but he is not an idiot.   There is nothing at Sun right now that Apple needs."

Dan McSwain _North San Diego County Times_
Growth amid slow-down predicted for SD County
"Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. as part of its regional and national forecast...   Researchers said they expect San Diego County's unemployment to inch down to 4% as employers add 25,600 more jobs than they eliminate this year, powered by growth in the biomedical, tourism and military industries...   Builders were expected to shake off a pause in 2002 and add 15,500 new homes, an increase of 8.9%...   The nation's annual growth rate, expressed as the sum of all goods and services sold, will fall from a 2.5% increase in 2002 to 1.9% in 2003, but accelerate to 3.3% in 2004, the study projected...   strong prospects for companies engaged in aerospace, homeland security, international trade and production of movies and TV programs...   They projected that statewide unemployment will increase to 6.5%, with businesses creating 94K non-farm jobs, before dropping to 6.1% in 2004, amid creation of 250K jobs.   San Bernardino and Riverside counties will probably post the strongest growth in the state this year, forecasters said, followed closely by San Diego County.   In San Diego County, manufacturing employment was projected to slip further in 2003 before rebounding in 2004...   Growth in the county's total personal incomes, which increased just 2% in 2002, was projected to increase by a healthier 4.5% in 2003.   The study predicted that taxable retail sales, which increased by 3.6% in 2002, would grow 6.2% this year."

Study: Many still jobless after severance pay runs out
"Severance payments for discharged managers and executives lasted an average of just 10.5 weeks in 2002, marking a 3-year, 52% decline to the shortest severance period since the last recession...   jobless managers and executives are taking 16 weeks to find new jobs, leaving them incomeless for 6 weeks, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.   The average length of severance has fallen by nearly 12 weeks since 1999 when the average was 21.8 weeks, according to Challenger's figures.   In 2002, the average severance ended at 10.5 weeks, which is the shortest period since Challenger began tracking such data in 1991."


2003-02-13 21:02PST (2003-02-14 00:02EST) (2003-02-14 05:02GMT)
Kristen Gerencher _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Where the working singles are
"There are 15.2 never-married men for every never-married woman in construction, 3 single guys for every single woman in manufacturing and durable goods industries and 2.8 eligible bachelors for every unattached female in transportation, according to the Employment Policy Foundation's 'Never-Married Availability Index'...   There are 4.1 never-married women for every comparable bachelor in medical services such as clinics and doctors' offices, the study said.   Social services offered the next best ratio at 2.8 unattached women per unattached man, followed by hospitals at 2.7 single women for every single man...   Despite a greater showing of females in the work-force than the previous generation, men still outnumber women by a 53% majority overall, Similarly, 56% of the almost 38M never-married workers in the US are men, compared with almost 44% who are women, though that's still the highest rate of never-married women to date, Chittenden said...   For example, single women's highest available-man ratio is among those with a high school diploma or less in the business, auto and repair services industry, where never-married men outnumber bachelorettes 27 to one, the study said...   Women in an age range ripe for pairing off, 25 to 34, show the greatest discrepancy in higher ed -- more than 55% of graduate degree holders are female compared with 44% for males of comparable ages, he said.   By the next age bracket, 35 to 44, that proportion flip-flops to 53% men and 47% women...   The average marriage age for women is 25 compared with 27 for men, up from age 20 for women and 23 for men in 1960, he said...   9 out of 10 people marry at some point in their lives..."

2003-02-14 05:27PST (08:27EST) (13:27GMT)
Students learn to create, not find, jobs
"The job insecurity that has settled over the nation during the past few years has made the idea of self-employment more appealing to college students.   And so a growing number of colleges and universities are offering courses and even degree programs in entrepreneurship to prepare young people for the challenges of working for themselves...   At least 550 colleges now offer classes in entrepreneurship, with 49 offering it as a degree program, he said...   Pages said entrepreneurship becomes more popular in a weak economy when laid-off workers can't find jobs at existing companies.   But it is also attractive in better times -- people know they can fail at a new business and still recover, he said."

2003-02-14 09:19:26PST (12:19:26EST) (17:19:26GMT)
Martin Crutsinger _AP_
Possible US Economic Rebound Predicted
"The United States, which struggled through a stop-and-go recovery last year, should see the economy steadily gain strength in 2003, say a panel of prominent economic forecasters.   But that outlook from the National Association for Business Economics comes with an important caveat - any US war with Iraq ends quickly.   A panel of 37 top economists, who prepared NABE's latest quarterly outlook, said Friday that President Bush's call for a new round of tax cuts would provide a moderate boost to the economy this year and next...   By the second half of the year, the jobless rate will start to come down, O'Neill said.   The NABE panel predicted even better growth of 3.6% in 2004 with the unemployment rate dropping from an expected average of 6% this year down to 5.5% next year, a welcome development for Bush in a year when he would be running for re-election.   A new CBS-New York Times poll said public confidence in the president's ability to handle the economy was at the lowest level since he took office, with just 38% approving of his handling of the economy and 53% disapproving.   6 out of 10 said the state of the economy is bad, the lowest measure in this poll in a decade..."

2003-02-14 12:45PST (15:45EST) (20:45GMT)
Bankruptcies at record high: New report says weak economy and easy credit push more people over the edge in 2002.
alternate link
"The number of individuals and businesses asking courts for relief from their debtors rose 5.7% to 1.58M from 1.49M in 2001, which had been the record previously, the Administrative Office of the US Courts said in a statement.   Personal filings rose while business filings fell, the agency said.   Non-business filings made up more than 97% of cases filed in 2002.   Business bankruptcy filings fell by 1,559 cases, or 3.9%, in the year."

2003-02-14 13:53PST (16:53EST) (21:53GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks end with rally despite Iraq: Investors in buying mood on Valentine's Day
"Stocks regained their footing and soared into the plus column for the week despite a closely watched report from chief inspector Hans Blix that provided no clear resolution to the simmering international debate over Iraq on Friday.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 158, or 2%, to close at 7,908 as it accelerated upward in the final hour in a volatile Valentine's Day.   The blue chip index opened higher, touched a peak of about 140 points after Blix wrapped up his remarks, only to retreat into the red, before recovering in afternoon action.   The Dow ended the week up 44 points, or 0.5%, from its week-ago close of 7,864.   The NASDAQ rallied 32 points, or 2.65%, to 1,310 on an 11% surge from Dell on Friday.   The tech-heavy index finished the week up 28 points, or 2.1%, from its close of 1,282 last week.   The S&P 500 advanced 17 points, or 2.1%, to 834 on Friday.   The index of blue chips advanced 5 points, or 0.6%, from its week-ago close of 829."

Jim Jubak _CNBC_
Economic forecast: more pain than you thought
"Chances are, we're in for a period of restructuring that could last for years, not quarters.   Trends in the auto industry show just how much change is yet to come...   weíre looking at a replay of the massive restructuring of US business that took place in the late 1970s and 1980s.   The bad news, if Iím right, is that the current economic mix of slow growth, anemic profits and rampant uncertainty isnít going to vanish over the next few quarters.   Anyone who remembers that earlier restructuring knows how much pain those years produced as jobs vanished and specific companies went under.   Many workers didnít find comparable jobs for months, and some never did at all...   Start with the personal anecdotes we all know of someone who has lost a good job and is convinced that it is never coming back, no matter what the economy does.   Itís a good idea to take these stories seriously.   Thereís always the problem of selection bias, since we all tend to emphasize 'facts' that fit our world-view.   But such anecdotes are also the leading indicators of real change.   Put enough together and you have a statistic at some point in the future...   For example, you know that the car companies have been laying off workers...   the current head count in the United States comes out well below the 2000 level.   And thatís even as the number of cars sold in the United States has stayed remarkably constant (at 16.8M in 2002 vs. 17.1M in 2001) and revenues have actually climbed (to $186G in 2002 from $177G in 2001)...   The same cost battle that US companies struggled to win against the Japanese in the 1980s now has to be fought all over again with a new group of competitors in [Red China], Malaysia, Poland and India."

Jon Fortt _San Jose Mercury News_
Diversity in high-tech work-place
"Asians emerged as the only group to substantially increase its share of the work-force, to 17% from 21% [sic].   Nearly one in 3 jobs created at the 10 companies between 1996 and 2000 went to Asian workers.   But Asians tended to be found in technical jobs, not in the executive ranks or the lucrative sales jobs that can lead to management.   As a whole, the proportion of blacks and Latinos barely budged.   In 2000, about 1 in 10 employees were either black or Latino.   Enrollment statistics at US engineering schools suggest these numbers might not change any time soon.   The picture is particularly troubling for women, who made up 35% of the work-force in 1996 but accounted for less than a third of it at the end of the boom.   Many women say they feel they have to leave larger companies to get a chance to advance in the executive ranks.   [Red China], India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan produce about 600K science and engineering graduates each year, nearly 3 times as many as the United States, according to the National Science Foundation.   Asians also earn nearly 8% of the bachelor's degrees in all science and engineering fields from US universities, although they comprise less than 4% of the nation's population...   In 1997 we had 8,821 employees.   In 1998 we had 12,688.   That's a lot of hiring.   That's a 50% increase in staff.'' said Kate DCamp, Cisco's senior vice president of human resources."

Martin Gregor _The Voice News_
Imported Cheap Labor Displacing American Professionals
"There is a disturbing phenomenon that's infiltrating information technology (IT) departments in corporations throughout Connecticut, and indeed the entire nation.   This is the replacement of American computer and other professionals by foreign nationals because of cheap labor.   The issue is not immigration.   Legal immigration, with sensible limits, should be applauded and embraced by us all.   I'm not speaking of 'out-sourcing', the transfer of jobs over-seas to turn a better profit; nor am I talking about protectionism or any adverse free trade philosophies...   Foreign workers from countries like Pakistan and India are brought onto US soil for the sole purpose of displacing tax-paying American citizens who earn higher (than Third World) salaries.   These foreign workers are not applying for citizenship; they are not better educated, have no desire for assimilation into our culture, and pose potential security risks.   They are issued 'L1' and 'H-1B' ([designations of sections] for legislative bills) nonimmigrant business visas and can then stay in this country indefinitely because the H-1B laws are poorly written and not enforced...   They cite their global image and pretend there is a 'shortage' of skilled workers as justification for their actions, but in reality their real goal is cheap labor at any cost.   Labor shortage?   Nothing on earth could be further from the truth.   Even during the Y2K computer scare there were resources enough to get the job done.   With Y2K behind us, the recent dot.com crash, recession and rising unemployment, the contention of a labor shortage is nothing more than a hoax.   For every IT job opening in Connecticut there are up to 100 resumes available within an hour.   In places like California, it's more like 400-500 resumes available within an hour's time.   Starting salaries for programmers in India are roughly $5K per year.   Here in the US, starting salaries are roughly $45K...   In the Greater Hartford area, it seems like every other week we read about lay-offs at one of the insurance companies.   Yet the numbers of foreigners on H-1B and L1 visas are constantly burgeoning at those institutions.   Remarkably, I have also observed that, in certain instances, before being terminated the American must train his H-1B replacement about his job duties, or is otherwise threatened with loss of severance pay and the shot at another opportunity that 'may arise' before his or her departure."

Hillary Mayell _National Geographic_
Gehghis Khan (Temujin) has about 16M male descendants living today
"An international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data have found that nearly 8% of the men living in the region of the former Mongol empire carry y-chromosomes that are nearly identical. That translates to 0.5% of the male population in the world, or roughly 16M descendants living today."



2003-02-16 06:10PST (09:10EST) (14:10GMT)
Researchers: It's easy to plant false memories
"University of California-Irvine psychologist Elizabeth Loftus.   She presented preliminary results of recent false memory experiments Sunday at the national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.   Loftus said some people may be so suggestible that they could be convinced they were responsible for crimes they didn't commit.   In interviews, 'much of what goes on -- unwittingly -- is contamination', she said.   The news media's power of suggestion also can leave a false impression, Loftus said...   A key, researchers said, is to add elements of touch, taste, sound and smell to the story...   'It is sensory details that people use to distinguish their memories," said Loftus, who has conducted false memories experiments on 20K subjects over 25 years.   'If you imbue the story with them, you'll disrupt this memory process.   It's almost a recipe to get people to remember things that aren't true.'"


2003-02-16 21:00PST (2003-02-17 00:00EST) (2003-02-17 05:00GMT)
Jerry Flint _Forbes_
Too Much Globalism
"Globalism -- also known as the hunt for lower wages -- continues apace in the auto industry.   Move the work to Canada, where the cheap currency and government-paid health care lower labor costs by a third.   Move it to Mexico.   Move it to [Red China], where wages are really low...   Delphi, the giant parts-maker spun off from General Motors, is the largest employer in Mexico...   The auto world is terribly competitive.   But are auto-maker direct-labor costs, which account for 8% of a car's price, all that important?   The most successful vehicle makers today are foreign: Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, Nissan and Hyundai.   What are they doing?   Expanding their manufacturing here...   Nissan is building a new plant in Mississippi to build big pickup trucks.   The plant isn't in [Red China] or Bangladesh.   Toyota is going to announce a new truck plant in a couple months for Texas, not Romania.   Honda and Mercedes are expanding in Alabama, and Hyundai will build a new plant there.   BMW is expanding in South Carolina...   They get huge subsidies from those southern states for their plants.   And while they pay Detroit wage scales, their non-union workers are younger, don't get the top rates and aren't collecting pensions yet...   What counts is how good the car or truck is.   Americans are proving every day that they will pay more for a vehicle if they think it's better...   it's good to have lots of workers at home who vote."

2003-02-17 11:52PST (14:52EST) (19:52GMT)
_Cincinnati Business Courier_
Internet misuse may contribute to long joblessness
"Internet-addicted job seekers may be partly to blame for the fact that the unemployed are taking 23% longer to find a job than it took job seekers during the last recession when the 'benefits' of on-line job searching were unavailable, said outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc...   Since the onset of the recession in 2001 March, the average duration of unemployment has grown to 15.2 weeks, 3 weeks, or 23%, longer than the 12.4 weeks it took job seekers to become reemployed during the pre-Internet-era recession that lasted from 1990 July to 1991 March.   This is based on a Challenger analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data...   In addition to slowing job search efforts, the Internet also is prolonging the hiring process for the employer, too, Challenger said, citing a survey of 5K recruiters and hiring managers by an online resume site in which 92% said they were inundated with irrelevant responses.   71% said that a majority of the resumes they received in response to an online job posting did not match the job description."

Linda Stern _Newsweek_
New Rules of the Hunt
"After hearing too many stories about managers who collected 500 resumes for each opening, Shaw decided to take a more maverick approach...   He created his own web site to show-case his resume...   the economy has lost more than 2M jobs since the recession started in 2001 March.   Some 8.8M people remain unemployed or too discouraged to even look for work...   About 60% of jobs are found through personal contacts, but forget the old-fashioned informational interview.   Just hit up everyone you know for introductions...   The 1-page resume is passe.   The most effective resumes today are loaded with specific information, and if that takes 5 pages, so be it.   Include buzz-words, software programs and acronyms of your field, and the kinds of projects youíve completed."

Eric Zoeckler _Everett Washington Herald_
Numbers shed light on the toll our troubled economy is taking
"Corporate lay-offs in January increased 42%, affecting 133,222 workers nationwide, a survey by the employee placement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas reported.   Since August, nearly 750K employees have lost their jobs, the highest layoff total for a similar period in 12 of the last 14 years, the survey found...   People usually trust their leaders in times of crisis.   But according to a Gantz Wiley Research survey public confidence in corporate CEOs has fallen to 13%, down from 28% in the halcyon days of early 2000 when the economy was cooking.   While feeling sour about chief executives as a whole, Americans have a much higher regard for their personal corporate leaders.   The 2003 Gantz survey found 43% have strong confidence in their company's senior management, up from the 36% level from 1995 to 2000.   Consumers showed a similar bent.   In a recent survey by consumer research group PlanetFeedback.com, firefighters (84%) were trusted either completely or somewhat, along with police (62%) and teachers (60%).   In contrast, CEOs gained the trust of only 15% of those surveyed along with financial analysts/brokers (15%), Members of Congress (14%) and advertisers (7%)...   The break-down of the typical pay-roll dollar consisted of 61 cents in wages, 11 cents in medical benefits, 11 cents for paid holidays and vacations, 8 cents in pay-roll taxes and workers' compensation, 8 cents in retirement and savings contributions, and 1 cent in other costs."


2003-02-17 21:03PST (2003-02-18 00:03EST) (2003-02-18 05:03GMT)
Steve Kerch _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Home-ownership adds to kid power: Children living in owned homes score better, misbehave less
"But a new study from Ohio State University researchers...   The research showed that for children living in owned homes rather than rental units, math scores are up to 9% higher, reading achievement is up to 7% higher and behavioral problems are 1 to 3% lower.   These results held true even after the researchers took into account a number of factors that may have influenced the findings, such as the fact that home-owners earn more and have higher levels of education than renters.   'Home-ownership itself is good for children.', said Donald Haurin, co-author of the study and professor of economics at Ohio State University.   Home-ownership seems to benefit children because the environments in homes -- including such things as safety, maintenance and the availability of educational materials -- are on average better than those in rental units.   Home-owners are also more likely to take care of dangers -- such as lead-based paint -- that have been shown to harm children...   In addition, the greater stability of home-owners -- meaning they tend to stay in one place longer -- is good for children's development because children stay in the same schools, and parents and children invest more time in developing positive relationships with their neighbors and the community.   This investment in neighbor and community relationships may promote positive child outcomes.   Like any good buy-and-hold investment, the benefits of home-ownership multiplied the longer the children lived in owned homes.   'It's a cumulative effect.', Haurin said."

2003-02-18 09:16PST (12:16EST) (17:16GMT)
Fred Katayama _CNN_
Hacker accesses 5.6M credit kkkards
"The affected accounts make up almost 1% of the 574M Visa and Mastercard cards in the United States."

2003-02-18 10:36PST (13:36EST) (18:36GMT)
Paul R. LaMonica _CNN_/_Money_
Nothing but a G thing: Demand for tech still weak?   It's all those 'geopolitical' concerns.   (Yeah, right.)
"The tech spending recovery will begin once big businesses feel that they have to upgrade on tech or risk losing a competitive edge, not with a regime change in Baghdad."

2003-02-18 11:47PST (14:47EST) (19:47GMT)
Internet slows job search: Survey shows hiring process slows when employers bombarded with online resumes from job seekers.
"Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc.   Since the onset of the recession in 2001 March, the average duration of unemployment has grown to 15.2 weeks, 23% longer than the 12.4 weeks it took job seekers to become re-employed during the pre-Internet-era recession that lasted from 1990 July to 1991 March, the report said.   'A growing number of unemployed Americans waste time browsing the estimated 4K to 5K online job sites, blanketing them with resumes, and then waiting for callbacks.   It is a formula for long-drawn-out joblessness.', said John Challenger, CEO of the [out-placement] firm...   92% of recruiters and hiring managers were inundated with irrelevant responses...   71% said a majority of the resumes they received in response to an online job posting did not match the job description."

2003-02-18 07:41PST (10:41EST) (15:41GMT)
Out-sourcing haven India running out of techies: Not enough workers to meet increasing demand
"India will require a high-tech work-force of more than 1M people by 2008, but will more than likely fall short of this total by around 250K at current rates.   Kiran Karnik, Nasscom's president, said: 'Though India has a large talent pool, with 167K engineering students and 1.54M graduates passing out of India's educational institutions annually, some training gaps remain.' Nasscom said the supply of IT workers should reach only 885K in 5 years time, translating to a short-fall of 235K professionals."

Dean E. Murphy _NY Times_
A Challenge in California Over Decisions for the Coast
"[Assemblyman John] Campbell, who was among the 23 legislators, all Republicans, who voted against Ms. Jackson's legislation today, said California needed a coastal commission, but not one with such sweeping powers.   'If we are going to have a coastal commission, it should protect the coast, not micromanage private property decisions on already developed land.', Mr. Campbell said...   Mr. Zumbrun, the lawyer, said it missed the point to argue about the popularity of protecting the coast.   'A lot of people would like to get rid of the Coastal Commission, but they want to get rid of it as it presently operates.', he said. 'They want an organization that has due process, checks and balances and accountability.' "

_NY Times_
general demand for high-speed Web and e-mail services continues unabated

Linda Carroll _NY Times_
Doctors Look Ahead to "Pace-Makers for the Brain"
"new research has shown that seizures start with a tiny spark of activity and that they take hours to build to a surge...   In December, researchers from Arizona State University showed that they could predict more than 80% of seizures with a computer program using chaos theory that analyzed brain waves.   On average, warnings of impending surges occurred more than an hour before the seizure, said Dr. Leon D. Iasemidis, an associate professor of bio-engineering."

Saundra Piercy _St. Petersburg Times_
Don't accept low pay from corporate giants
"My husband and I moved to this area almost 15 years ago and were shocked at the wages in Florida.   I had 28 years' experience in every aspect of the insurance business...   I was offered $5 an hour to manage offices.   The interviewers knew full well the benefit of hiring me.   It would free the owners up to be on the road and make much more money, rather than staying in the office [serving] and managing clients.   I was appalled and insulted with their offers and the fact there were no benefits to go along with the low wage...   Back in 1989, we started our people off at $6 an hour.   Our employees quickly moved up to $8 an hour and I gave them whatever I could for birthdays, Christmas, etc.   Today I am paying $10-plus an hour.   I live by the rule 'an honest day's pay for an honest day's work'...   I just don't know how people can live with the wages that are paid and, not to mention, expectations that are put on employees.   How can you have a family, a decent home, clothes, insurance, a car and anything extra whatsoever on $5, $6, $7 or even $8 an hour?   I am in full agreement that the South needs to update its archaic thinking.   There are so many doctors and lawyers and big department stores taking such advantage of people.   Their attitude is, 'If you don't want the job, I can find 10 people to fill your shoes.'.   They could care less about the cost to retrain people and the poor quality of service this attitude leaves their clients, patients, customers."


2003-02-19 05:16:26PST (08:16:26EST) (13:16:26GMT
Christine M. Cooney _Connecticut Post_
Jobless get free service: Dry cleaners remember own tough times
"Shortly after opening their Monroe store, the couple decided to offer free suit or dress dry cleaning for anyone who was unemployed.   'Monroe is a small community and we wanted to help our neighbors.', said Susan Martel.   'A lot of the reason why we offered the free dry cleaning was because he [Charlie Martel] was unemployed and it jogged our memory about what it was like living off your savings or unemployment check and finding ways to save a dollar...'...   All the Martels ask is that customers bring in a pay stub from their unemployment checks or a pink slip as proof of unemployment."

2003-02-19 10:49PST (13:49EST) (18:49GMT)
David Kirkpatrick _CNN_/_Fortune_
Rising anti-American movement may slam tech sector
"What made the protests in a reported 600 cities worldwide so potent was not only their size -- up to 6M in total -- but their coordination.   The Internet gives every potential protester information and, in many cases, encouragement....   Cisco recently sued Huawei for its [patent violations] in the U.S."

Leslie Eaton _NY Times_
Economy Is Tough All Over, but in NY, It's Horrid
"Michael Amodeo is New York's most prominent auctioneer of failed restaurants and bankrupt businesses, and these days he is a very busy man.   'It started right after the bubble ended in 2000...'   New York City has lost almost 176K jobs in 2 years -- more than the population of many cities.   The unemployment rate, which in the spring of 2001 had fallen to 5.3%, has been climbing steadily and jumped to 8.4% in December...   the city's economy shows that it has been shrinking for 2 years.   The New York City comptroller's office is forecasting another decline this year.   Evidence of economic hardship in the city is increasing.   There has been a big rise in the number of people who have been jobless for more than 6 months, and tens of thousands of people have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits but remain out of work.   The number of households not on welfare but receiving food stamps, which some analysts cite as an indicator of a bad economy, has risen 20K in the last year, to 124K.   New York City has gone through boom and bust before, most recently during what Christine M. Cumming, director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, described as 'the long economic winter' from 1989 through 1992.   The entire region suffered then; Connecticut, New Jersey and New York State lost hundreds of thousands of jobs...   Very few, 45 of 365 businesses that cut workers, have rehired people...   The stock market has dropped for 3 straight years, the only time this has happened since World War II.   December is usually a good month for the stock market; in 2002, it was the the poorest since 1931...   Wall Street workers have just taken a $4.7G pay cut...   College-educated workers like Ms. Herschman are more likely to find themselves unemployed than they were in previous recessions, economists say.   But those most likely to find themselves out of a job in New York City are blue-collar workers, those without high school diplomas, the young, and black and Hispanic workers, said Mark Levitan, senior policy analyst for the Community Service Society, which helps the poor."

Bill Cotterell _Tallahassee Democrat_
Tables turn at state job agency: 116 unemployment compensation employees looking for work themselves
"The Agency for Workforce Innovation announced Tuesday that a shortage of federal money has forced a statewide staff reduction.   The agency's 'job-changer' teams, which are dispatched to an area where a large plant closes or a business lays off workers, began counseling state employees at the Caldwell Building -- providing lists of job openings, tips on interview and resume preparation and other counseling for the newly unemployed.   AWI spokesman Warren May said 116 jobs are being eliminated, 53 of them in Tallahassee.   He said there were 20 lay-offs in Fort Lauderdale, 19 in Orlando and 17 in Tampa and a few others in West Palm Beach, Bradenton, Winter Haven and Jacksonville.   'The Congress has been relying on a series of continuing resolutions to keep funding for the federal government.', May said.   'AWI is virtually 100% federally funded...'...   May said 59 of the laid-off employees were Career Service workers and 40 were temporary 'other personal service' workers.   The 17 others worked under agency contracts.   May said 68 employees worked in unemployment compensation claims and benefits, 30 were in the office of unemployment compensation appeals and seven were in the agency's administration.   He said 5 worked in the one-stop program support and 6 were in information technology.   He said AWI is now taking unemployment compensation claims over the Internet and is making payments by electronic transfer of funds, requiring fewer employees for processing of jobless benefits.   He said there are still about 650 employees working in unemployment compensation, including OPS and contract workers."

Bob Rosner, Allan Halcrow & Alan Levins _abc News_
Office Fitness: How to be Sure the Candidate Will be Able to Perform
"Asking a job candidate to have a complete physical is legal.   However, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits requiring a medical exam before an offer of employment is made...   None of the following is permitted before a job offer is made:

Limit the tests to job-related functions."

Sam Zuckerman _SF Chronicle_
Job losses in state twice as bad as thought: Employers' tax filings reveal a labor market clobbered by recession
"California lost more than twice as many jobs [as previous] official statistics show during the recent economic downturn, many of them in the ailing technology sector...   The data, derived from unemployment insurance tax payments by employers filed quarterly with the state, show that California had 106K fewer non-farm jobs at the end of June than official Employment Development Department figures indicate...   California's recession did more damage to the labor market than previously thought, especially in manufacturing and business services, where technology jobs are concentrated.   Official EDD statistics show 14,658,900 jobs in California outside the farm sector as of 2002 June, a relatively mild loss of 99K jobs from the peak registered in 2001 January.   The unemployment insurance tax filing data indicate that the job loss was 205K, or more than [twice as many]...   Last year's revision found that California had 14,696,600 jobs in 2001 March, a decrease of 79,500 from the previous estimate...   Williams estimates that about 20K of the extra manufacturing job losses and roughly a third of the business services losses occurred in the tech sector...   Calculated 14,658,900 California nonfarm jobs as of 2002 June."

Michael Kahn _San Jose Mercury News_
CalPERS rules out stock investing in 12 countries
"CalPERS, the nation's largest public pension fund, Tuesday ruled out stock investment in Malaysia, Thailand, India, Russia and eight other countries and proposed an overhaul of its emerging market policies... Colombia... [Red China]... Morocco, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia and Venezuela.   CalPERS, which has some $133G in assets, had been expected to put Thailand and Malaysia back on its list of approved emerging markets, but voted for tighter standards than its consultant had recommended.   Under the revised standards, investment would be cleared for 14 emerging markets, including South Korea, Poland and Israel.   The others are the Czech Republic, Hungary, Taiwan, South Africa, Chile, Mexico, Jordan, Peru, Argentina, Turkey and Brazil.   The fund, which has about $1.8G in emerging markets, also said it would keep the Philippines on its target investment list pending a further review after officials from that nation appealed the recommendation that it be dropped."

George Gilder _WSJ_/_Gilder.com_
Broad-band's Narrow Minds
"Since the 2000 March peak, telecom has seen a $1T loss in market cap among 17 companies, not to mention another thousand related bankruptcies...   Not only does it [South Korea] lead the world in wireless technology and deployment, but it boasts broad-band penetration of some 70% of households.   Amid many alibis and excuses, some in the U.S. industry claim that broad-band penetration of 20% of households -- "the fastest for any new electronic product" -- is impressive.   But real broad-band of the sort South Korea deploys for $33 per month runs at a pace of eight megabits per second.   This is about ten times as fast as our DSL and cable modems.   Average South Korean service is fast enough to stream a high resolution HDTV image two ways onto a computer screen.   Even South Korean mobile wireless connections outperform most U.S. DSL...   Cable, satellite, and telco rivals have made the local loop one of the most 'competitive' arenas in the entire economy.   But the regulation of every price and connection assures that no one can win or make any money.   Investment has halted in its tracks, devastating the advanced optics and network equipment suppliers...   telecom can no longer prosper in a political tug-of-law among fractious state commissions plus scores of fee-chasing mayors, and a menagerie of anti-trust beadles and regulatory vandals in the Federal government.   It's not a stretch to suggest that the technology crisis now jeopardizes national security...   Telecom was never really a bubble since it was in the process of improving its cost effectiveness by a factor of 11K in 6 years to accommodate a 4K-fold rise in Internet traffic during that period...   But all this band-width is useless if it is not connected to homes and offices."


2003-02-19 16:18PST (19:18EST) (2003-02-20 00:18GMT)
US imposes sanctions on Indian company
"The United States has imposed economic sanctions on an Indian company and on a former resident of India for allegedly providing Iraq with material that could be useful in chemical and biological weapons programs, the State Department said on Wednesday. Under a notice published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, the US government has banned the importation into the United States of any goods produced by NEC Engineers Private, Ltd. or by Hans Raj Shiv. The US government will not enter into any contract for the procurement of any goods or services from the sanctioned persons and their successors, it added... NEC sent 10 shipments including titanium vessels, filters, titanium centrifugal pumps, atomized and spherical aluminum powder and titanium anodes."

2003-02-20 05:58PST (08:58EST) (13:58GMT)
William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
December US trade gap hits record $44.2G: Full-year 2002 deficit also a record at $435.2G
"For the year, the United States posted a record trade deficit of $435.2G, a rise of $76.9G from the 2001 gap of $358.3G and exceeding the previous record of $378.7G set in 2000.   The US economic recovery has largely outpaced its trading partners, leading to a widening trade gap, economists have said.   Capital goods, primarily computer accessories, telecom equipment and semiconductors, fell $31.1G in 2002, making up the bulk of a $35.6G decline in goods exports.   Imports of goods rose $22.6G in 2001, led by a $23.4G rise in consumer goods, particularly pharmaceutical preparations, other household goods, TVs and VCRs, furniture and cotton apparel.   The December trade gap had been expected to narrow slightly after posting a record $40.1G reading in November...   The December trade deficit with Western Europe totaled $9.6G, the second highest on record behind a July 2002 gap of $11.1G.   The deficit with Japan at $7.1G was the highest since 2000 October.   For the full year, the Commerce Department said the $35.6G fall in exports was the second largest year-over-year decline after the record $52.8G decline seen from 2000 to 2001.   Meanwhile 2002 exports of food, feeds and beverages of $49.5G was the highest since $51.5G in 1997.   Capital goods exports of $290.6G were the lowest since 1996.   On the import side, 2002 saw record imports in the food, feeds and beverages; automotive vehicles, parts and engines; consumer goods; and other goods categories.   Imports of capital goods totaled $290.6G, the lowest since $269.5G in 1998."

2003-02-20 06:21PST (09:21EST) (14:21GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Energy touches off inflation spurt: Jobless claims hint at weakening labor market
"Higher energy prices last month fueled the nation's worst inflation seen at the wholesale level in 13 years, the government said Thursday.   The producer price index jumped 1.6% in January, led by increases of 4.8% in energy costs and 1.6% in food costs.   Inflation accelerated elsewhere as well: The core rate of inflation rose 0.9%, the biggest jump in about 4 years.   Most of the gain in core inflation, adjusted to exclude food and energy, was due to a 3.5% increase in new car prices, representing the biggest jump in 16 years.   Light truck prices rose 4.1% last month.   However, car prices have dropped 1.4% over the past year...   Producer prices are up 2.8% in the past 12 months.   Just 4 months ago, the PPI had been negative on a year-over-year basis.   The PPI eased 0.1% in December.   Breaking down the January numbers further, prices for finished capital goods rose 0.7%, while vegetables advanced 18.2%, bakery goods increased 1.4% -- the most in 12 years -- gasoline rose 13.7% and heating oil prices appreciated by 19.7%."

2003-02-20 09:12PST (12:12EST) (17:12GMT)
Wholesale prices soar: Gain in producer prices biggest in 13 years; jobless claims jump, while trade gap also rises. (with graph)
"The Labor Department said its producer price index (PPI), a measure of wholesale prices, rose 1.6% -- the biggest one-month jump since 1990 January -- after falling 0.1% in December, while "core" PPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.9% after falling 0.5% in December."

2003-02-20 10:42PST (13:42EST) (18:42GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Shades of stagflation: That 1970s problem, a deadly combo of inflation and recession, is unlikely, but not impossible.
"Stagflation is a relatively new beast in economic lore, arising for the first time after an Arab oil embargo in 1973-74 nearly quadrupled prices for crude oil and retail gasoline in the United States.   The embargo pushed US inflation through the roof.   The growth rate in the consumer price index (CPI), the government's main measure of inflation at the retail level, nearly doubled in 1973 and nearly doubled again in 1974...   Inflation has seemed largely non-existent in recent years in the United States.   CPI growth was a tame 1.6% in 2002, a far cry from the days of double-digit CPI growth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which forced the desperate Federal Reserve to push short-term interest rates to nearly 20% to fight it...   The falling US dollar has also added inflationary pressure to the system -- if dollars are worth less, they have less purchasing power, the definition of inflation.   Meanwhile, Congress is talking about pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy via tax cuts and new spending, and the Federal Reserve's target for short-term interest rates has been at a 40-year low since late 2001.   These factors could flood the economy with even more dollars, further eroding their value and pushing up inflation.   On the other hand, a declining dollar helps US exporters by making their goods more competitive over-seas, and policy-makers are hoping the stimulus plans in the works and already low interest rates will help boost economic growth."

2003-02-20 07:00PST (10:00EST) (15:00GMT)
_Conference Board_
US Leading Economic Index Holds Steady
"Leading Indicators.   Half of the 10 indicators that make up the leading index increased in January.   The positive contributors to the index -- beginning with the largest positive contributor -- were average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), real money supply*, vendor performance, manufacturersí new orders for consumer goods and materials*, and interest rate spread.   The negative contributors -- from the largest negative contributor -- were index of consumer expectations, building permits, average weekly manufacturing hours, manufacturersí new orders for nondefense capital goods*, and stock prices.   The leading index now stands at 111.2 (1996=100).   Based on revised data, this index increased 0.2% in December and increased 0.5% in November.   During the 6-month span through January, the leading index increased 0.2%, with 4 of the 10 components advancing (diffusion index, 6-month span equals 40%).   Coincident Indicators.   All 4 indicators that make up the coincident index increased in January.   The positive contributors to the index, beginning with the largest positive contributor - were industrial production, employees on nonagricultural pay-rolls, personal income less transfer payments*, and manufacturing and trade sales*.   The coincident index now stands at 115.5 (1996=100).   Based on revised data, this index held steady in December and increased 0.1% in November.   During the 6-month period through January, the coincident index increased 0.2%."

2003-02-20 09:30PST (12:30EST) (17:30GMT)
_Conference Board_
US Leading Economic Index Declines 0.1% in January
"This release reflects revisions to vendor performance that were not included in our 10 AM release.   These revisions were minor and affected the US Leading Index only.   The index level in January remains the same, but the index level for December is higher than earlier reported.   As a result, the January monthly change is now -0.1%...   The leading index now stands at 111.2 (1996=100).   Based on revised data, this index increased 0.2% in December and increased 0.5% in November.     During the 6-month span through January, the leading index increased 0.2%, with 4 of the 10 components advancing (diffusion index, 6-month span equals 40%)."

2003-02-20 12:14PST (15:14EST) (20:14GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
Is stagflation in the cards for US?: Bad economic data point to slow growth, higher prices
"Higher prices, slower growth, more lay-offs ... a couple more months like this and people will start waxing nostalgic about the days of Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter...   Neither consumers nor businesses are confident in the future.   Both are burdened with debts and both are putting new cash flow to work repairing balance sheets.   Both sectors are waiting.   Waiting for the war, but even more waiting for things to get better...   Only about a quarter of firms surveyed by the Philadelphia Fed plan to increase hiring or spending in the next 6 months...   There are intense deflationary forces at work in the global economy, particularly the competition from low-wage manufacturers like the [Red Chinese].   But at the same time, there are also inflationary pressures stemming from the same war fears that have frozen the American economy in suspended animation...   At this rate, there may be no cushion left in the system...   Food prices rose 1.6%, including big increases in vegetables, meat, fish and even baked goods.   The increase in food prices could just be noise in the data.   After all, wholesale food prices are up just 0.4% in the past 12 months, so there's no trend toward runaway prices...   The rise in energy prices has already cut about $50 a month out of household budgets.   The business sector is also facing those higher costs and attempts to pass those costs along may not be any more successful than the airlines' failure to impose a fuel surcharge...   Each of us uses as much energy now as we did in 1973, but we produce 75% more."

2003-02-20 15:10PST (18:10EST) (23:10GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
Off-shore out-sourcing boom expected by GIG
"Market research firm Giga Information Group is forecasting a boom in over-seas out-sourcing for the US information technology industry.   The research firm predicts IT out-sourcing to India will grow by 25% this year, as companies seek to cut costs and improve quality.   IT out-sourcing is when a company farms out certain IT operations such as software development or data center management to another company.   Giga expects that companies will demand some portion of work be done in a foreign country in almost every major out-sourcing deal during 2003.   But Giga analyst Stephanie Moore warns companies to shop carefully for an out-sourcing partner and advises against shipping work to the nascent IT services industry in [Red China]...   'IT Trends 2003: Off-shore Out-sourcing'...   the number of computer jobs moving over-seas will grow from 27,171 in 2000 to a cumulative total of 472,632 by 2015...   Moore anticipates Global 1,000 companies will continue to replace local contractors with off-shore or near-shore IT workers.   She also indicated companies using a US out-sourcing firm will push the provider to shift work over-seas to trim expenses.   Critics of shifting IT work over-seas have raised questions about the skill levels of foreign programmers and the effect on US workers."

2003-02-20 08:07PST (11:07EST) (16:07GMT)
Gary Strauss _USA Today_
Troubled firms entice CEOs with platinum pay
"Front-loaded with guaranteed salary and incentives, some are propelling potential payouts to $100M or more, according to a _USA Today_ analysis of corporate filings...   Now, fresh CEO ousters are igniting a frenzied hunt for executive talent.   'The generic attitude among corporate boards is, "We're in a mess, and no one wants to work for us, so we have to spend oodles to get someone."', says Paul Hodgson, pay analyst for The Corporate Library, a governance research group.   'There's just no sense of restraint.'   Huge golden hellos could expand overall CEO compensation, which hit a median of $10.2M at big companies in 2002...   Some share-holders call the pay excessive...   CEOs with vaunted reputations can add billions of market value to a company.   But if performance is an arbiter, many golden hellos quickly tarnish...   [Steve] Jobs has fared far better than share-holders.   Although he's been paid a token $1 annually, Apple's board awarded him 20M stock options in 2000, valued at up to $1.4G.   Directors also gave him a Gulf Stream V jet valued at $90M...   Given 3 consecutive losing years on Wall Street, just how much CEOs should be compensated is a sensitive topic among share-holders and corporate boards.   But that's for sitting CEOs.   When it comes to new hires, share-holders usually have virtually no say about the size of pay packages.   That's likely to fuel continued debate among corporate-governance experts and head-hunters about what a new CEO is worth...   'The CEO labor market is not a market in any sense.', Khurana says."

Lynne Weber _Westport Connecticut Minuteman_
College graduates face a shrinking job market
"Michael Dalton, director of career planning at Fairfield University.   'I'm sure it's going to be a difficult year (for graduates).   There's no getting around that.   It's much different than a few years ago.'   Dalton is cautious about how this year's graduating class will fare in the short term.   'We don't know those figures yet.', Dalton said.   But last year at this time the school was reporting a 2% unemployment rate, while this year the figure is 4.2%.   Dalton said, several years ago, students were fielding multiple offers from employers, but this year they are struggling to find just 1 or 2.   Meanwhile, although the state unemployment figure of around 4% is 1% to 2% points below the national average, many recent graduates find themselves accepting lower paying jobs and moving back home with their parents."

Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
Shifting Control of Pension Funds
"The new accounts would replace such upfront breaks with the promise that all future withdrawals would be tax-free.   The idea is to wean Americans off their fixation on tax deductions in the here and now, and train them to think instead about tax-free wealth in the future...   in his recent economic report to Congress, President Bush praised the potential advantages of a consumption-based tax over the income tax...   White House theorists suggest that if Americans have the chance to discover the pleasures of tax-free investment withdrawals, they will buy into its broader ideology of individual self-reliance."

Lisa Munoz _Orange County Register_
Suit focuses on safety of resumes on-line: Job-search site accuses rival of illegally grabbing resumes for his own site.
"Washington-based www.biotechcareers.com."

Hang Nguyen _Orange County Register_
New year, old story
"Foreclosures were almost slashed in half in January from a year earlier."

Julie Asher _Fox News_/_AP_
Georgia's Miller Backs Bush Stimulus Plan
"Miller is a strong advocate of tax cuts...   Miller, a popular former governor who has said that he won't seek re-election in 2004, also was a co-sponsor to the president's proposed $1.6T tax cut package in 2001.   That final 10-year, $1.3T package was also supported by centrist Democrats John Breaux of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who have not endorsed the current plan."

_CNET Australia?_
Jobless rate for IT sky-rockets in Australia
"Unemployment in the information and communication technology sector is running at twice the national average, according to an Australian Computer Society report...   The results, based on responses from 889 ACS members, reveal that ICT unemployment among ACS members is 11.9% compared with the national average of 6.1%.   Unemployment was higher among older and more experienced professionals, reaching nearly 13% for those aged 36-40 and 51-55.   The rate for female ICT professionals was 12.3%."


2003-02-21 02:00PST (05:00EST) (10:00GMT)
Christopher Null _Wired_
Hackers Run Wild and Free on AOL
"Using a combination of trade tricks and clever programming, hackers have thoroughly compromised security at America Online, potentially exposing the personal information of AOL's 35M users.   The most recent exploit, launched last week, gave a hacker full access to Merlin, AOL's latest customer database application.   As a security measure, Merlin runs only on AOL's internal network, but savvy hackers have found a way to break in...   Typically, hackers target reps at off-shore call centers in India or Mexico, who they claim are less savvy and have far less training than American service agents."

2003-02-21 07:17PST (10:17EST) (15:17GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
CPI rose a modest 0.3% in January
"A seasonally adjusted rise of 4% in energy prices accounted for most of the monthly increase in the consumer price index, which tracks US inflation at the retail level.   Gasoline prices rose 6.6%, while fuel oil prices increased 8.6%.   Natural gas prices rose 4.6%, the largest in 2 years.   It was the largest increase seen in the CPI in nine months.   The CPI rose by 0.1% in December...   Excluding food and energy costs, the core CPI rose 0.1% in January, compared with a 0.2% gain in December.   Over the past 12 months, the CPI has risen 2.6%."

2003-02-21 13:47PST (16:47EST) (21:47GMT)
Lisa M. Bowman _CNET_
Sun wins spat over H-1B abuse
"former Sun Microsystems employee failed to prove the company *significantly* violated employment law, a 'judge' ruled this week.   Guy Santiglia, who was employed by Sun for 4 months before being laid off in 2001 November, charged that Sun retained H-1B workers when he was cut...   Labor Condition Application (LCA), which is related to securing an H-1B visa.   In that document, employers are required to disclose certain details about H-1B workers' salaries and to verify that the visa won't harm the working conditions of similar US employees.   Although it's not illegal to hire or retain H-1B workers in lieu of American workers in most cases, the law outlines how information regarding H-1B hiring and wages must be posted or otherwise made public."

Susan Sachs _NY Times_
US Crack-down Sets Off Unusual Rush to Canada
"As did hundreds of other Pakistanis fleeing a post-9/11 crack-down on illegal immigrants, Mr. Mirza quit his job, packed up his possessions and headed north rather than face a forced return to Pakistan.   After a 16-hour bus ride from Virginia with his wife and seven children, he arrived at the Canadian border, hoping to take advantage of Canada's political asylum law.   But besieged Canadian officials told him to come back in 2 weeks.   And when he dragged their suit-cases back to the American side, United States immigration agents promptly arrested him and his 2 teenage sons, leaving the rest of the family wailing in despair in the icy cold...   At crossing points in British Columbia, some 70 people, most of them Pakistanis, asked for asylum in January.   In all of 2002, officials said, only 36 Pakistanis made refugee claims.   At land crossings into Ontario, 871 people applied for asylum in January, double the number just 2 months earlier.   Last November, 5% of the asylum seekers were Pakistani.   Last month, 49% were Pakistani, according to Canadian immigration officials in Toronto.   Freedom House, an immigrant aid group in Detroit, said that since the beginning of the year it had registered 269 Muslim asylum seekers trying to reach Canada in advance of their registration deadlines.   7 out of 10 are Pakistanis, with the rest Arabs.   Normally, the group handles about 30 cases a month...   Of the 32K men who have registered so far at immigration offices around the country, according to officials, more than 3K face deportation.   The choices for illegal Muslim immigrants, then, were stark.   If they had been in the United States for more than one year, they no longer had the right to apply for asylum here.   So they could have ignored the registration and risked deportation, registered and faced deportation or gone back to Pakistan.   Or they could try for asylum in Canada by claiming they would face political persecution if forced to return home...   The widely held perception is that Canada treats applicants with more leniency, although its refugee approval rate of 57% is not much higher than that of the United States, which approves 54% of asylum cases.   Asylum seekers in the United States are generally placed in detention while their claims are assessed, however, while those waiting for a decision in Canada are free to work."


2003-02-22 14:43PDT (17:43EST) (22:43GMT)
William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Deficits matter.   But how much?: Rival views on impact of debt on interest rates (with graph)
"Glenn Hubbard, the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers and an architect of the tax-cut plan, has argued that the deficit's impact is relatively minor, and partly offset by future economic growth that can stem from income-tax cuts...   According to the CEA's calculations, each dollar of debt crowds out about 60 cents of capital.   The other 40 cents is off-set by larger capital in-flows from abroad...   Some economists say the relationship between interest rates and deficits is quite unclear, and muddled by a host of complicating factors...   That under-scores the need for law-makers to adhere to the president's call for discipline when it comes to spending, Hubbard said...   Restraining spending, however, will be a big test for the administration and Congress.   While Republicans attack Democrats as profligate spenders, the much-delayed appropriations bill finally approved by the GOP-controlled Congress and signed into law by the president this week boosts federal spending in fiscal 2003 by 7.8%.   Over the past 2 years, spending has risen 22%.   Bush's fiscal 2004 budget calls for a spending rise of a little more than 3% from 2003, but doesn't factor in the potential costs of war with Iraq or a large aid package being negotiated for Turkey."

Adam Shatz _NY Times_
An Arab GadFly with a Memorable Bite
"a man of principle is always a thorn in the side of authoritarian forces."


Thomas L. Friedman _NY Times_
My Survival Kit
"What good is it to have Osama trapped in a basement somewhere if, by just whispering a few threats on Al Jazeera TV, he can trap us in self-sealed rooms?   No good at all, which is why the only survival purchase I've made since Code Orange is a new set of Ben Hogan Apex irons, and why my all-American survival kit would include: a movie guide, a concert schedule, Rollerblades, a bicycle -- plus a reminder to attend your local PTA meetings, Little League games, neighborhood block parties and your book club and to get plenty of tickets for your favorite sports team.   Leave the cave-dwelling to Osama."

William L. Laurence _NY Times_
On This Day 1954-02-23: Lasting Prevention of Polio Reported in Vaccine Tests: Dr. Salk Says Discovery Fights Off All 3 Kinds of Crippling Disease
"This could mean that within the next 3 to 5 years polio, crippler of young and old alike, will join diphtheria, smallpox, typhoid and other formerly dreaded infectious diseases as plagues finally tamed and conquered by man.   The newest findings were described here tonight before the New Orleans Graduate Medical Assembly by Dr. Jones E. Salk, of the Virus Research Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.   Dr. Salk developed the vaccine against the 3 types of polio-producing viruses, using viruses that had been rendered incapable of producing the disease while they will retained their power to produce immunity.   Replying to remarks made this morning in Detroit by Dr. Albert Sabin of Cincinnati, Dr. Salk presented further evidence that this vaccine was not only safe and effective but that it was also 'a practical means for inducing and maintaining antibody (immunity) formation'...   Dr. Salk also replied to the question, asked by Dr. Sabin, whether the monkey kidney tissue may not produce a toxic reaction, as proteins from a foreign body have sometimes been known to do.   He said the actual amount of monkey kidney tissue used is so tiny as to be completely insignificant."

Neil MacFarquhar _NY Times_
Iraq Seeks Talks to Save Its Stock of Barred Missiles
"Iraq publicly held out the hope today that technical talks with United Nations weapons experts might stave off the forced destruction of its most potent short-range missiles...   France bluntly demanded that Iraq comply with the United Nations order to destroy the missiles...   Al Samoud 2 short-range missiles...   Behind the focus on the missiles, Iraqi diplomatic maneuvering continued around the region.   Iraq requested that a summit meeting of Arab leaders due to convene on March 1 in Cairo be postponed at least 2 weeks, apparently wary that the Arab states allied with Washington would use it to increase the pressure on Baghdad...   The missiles were ordered destroyed because they exceeded the 92-mile range limit established under the cease-fire terms of the Persian Gulf war in 1991...   In addition, a French Mirage jet fighter to be deployed within days and low-flying German drones are due join the U-2 spy planes that started this week to add to the inspector's air surveillance abilities."

Andrew Pollack & Lawrence K. Altman _NY Times_
Large Trial Finds Experimental AIDS Vaccine Fails to Stop Infection
"The vaccine did, however, seem to significantly lower the infection rate among African-Americans and other non-Hispanic minorities participating in the trial, the company said.   Its researchers called this finding totally unexpected and said they were at a loss to explain why there would be ethnic differences in response to the vaccine.   They conceded that the findings, though statistically significant, might change if the vaccine were tested among more members of minorities, who were only a small fraction of the people in the trial...   The vaccine, known as Aidsvax, is made from a protein called gp120, the same protein that protrudes from the surface of HIV and helps the virus dock with cells of the body's immune system.   The protein in the vaccine is made in genetically engineered hamster ovary cells.   Since the vaccine consists of only one protein and not the whole virus, it cannot give someone AIDS.   But it is designed to provoke the immune system into making antibodies that will latch on to the gp120 protein in the real virus and the virus from infecting immune cells... VaxGen's vaccine is designed to elicit antibodies to only 2 strains of subtype B, the type most prevalent in North America and Europe.   Even VaxGen said it was hoping its vaccine would prevent 30% of infections, which is far lower than for most vaccines, but could have been enough for approval.   But even that level was not attained."

Eric Schmitt _NY Times_
US Suggests Iraqi-Americans Will Help in Recovery Process
"To help rebuild Iraq when Saddam Hussein is ousted, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said today, the Pentagon will begin recruiting Iraqi-Americans to serve in the military reserves and hiring them as translators and other temporary civilian employees...   Mr. Wolfowitz had been invited to attend by the Iraqi Forum for Democracy, a political action group based in Ann Arbor, MI, that supports Mr. Hussein's ouster.   But some Iraqis voiced suspicions about whether they could trust the United States to finish the job in Iraq.   Some voiced bitterness over President George Bush's failure to back a Shiite uprising in southern Iraq immediately after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.   Others expressed alarm at press reports that the administration might support a Baathist party general as Mr. Hussein's successor, or leave an American officer in charge of Iraq indefinitely.   'They won't be willing to see another dictator after Saddam.', said Imam Hassan Qazwini, a prominent religious leader at the Islamic Center of America in Detroit.   Mr. Wolfowitz vowed that the administration would never back a 'junior Saddam Hussein'.   And he repeatedly stated that American forces would be 'liberators', not an occupying force...   'The key for us in getting out quickly is for Iraqis to come together quickly.'   Mr. Wolfowitz also outlined an initiative to allow Iraqi-Americans to join the military's Individual Ready Reserve, putting their linguistic, cultural and professional skills to work.   Defense officials said that once volunteers were vetted for terrorist connections, they could be quickly dispatched to front-line units in a conflict or in a reconstruction effort.   Officials also said that Iraqi-Americans who joined the reserves could be eligible for accelerated United States citizenship, and that their full-time civilian job in the United States would be protected while they were mobilized."

David A. Sylvester _San Jose Mercury News_
Picture grim for job rebound: Valley ForeCast: Recovery in 2011
"The tight job market also is a shock to the free-wheeling atmosphere of Silicon Valley, where technology workers grew accustomed to the freedom to choose their jobs and companies.   With the unemployment rate now above 7%, and expected to stay there for the next 4 years, it's the companies who have their pick of employees...   Regional forecasting firm Economy.com estimates that Santa Clara County will have 955K jobs at the end of the year -- about 100K below the peak of employment during the first quarter in 2001.   It expects jobs will sag to a low of 950K this summer before hiring picks up again through the last quarter of the year.   Worse, the forecasting firm doesn't expect Santa Clara County to return to the 2001 job mark for a full decade -- until 2011...   A Mercury News spot check of a dozen of the largest employers in the valley confirms Economy.com's forecast for this year.   In 2003, half of the firms expect to cut jobs or maintain the current level of employment, while the other half are planning moderate increases.   But for the next 5 years, most local firms are looking at increasing their employee count by 5% to 10%, some of that elsewhere than in Silicon Valley."

Robert Bartolo _Science Policy Network_
High-Tech Lay-Offs: The Other Quiet Crisis


2003-02-24 02:26PST (05:26EST) (10:26GMT)
Leslie Haggin Geary _CNN_/_Money_
Your job: How scared should you be?: Perhaps plenty.   New data shows employers are slowing down on hiring.
NBC report
"employers nationwide are scaling back plans to add workers to their pay-rolls...   At first blush, the Manpower report offers a glimmer of an upturn: More employers plan to hire from April to June this year than the first quarter of the year -- or 22% versus 20%.   9% will lay off staff, down from 12% in the first quarter.   And 63% of companies will hold staff levels steady, according to the survey...   In fact, [since] 2001 March, the official start of the recession, some 1.6M jobs have been eliminated entirely.   Today, national unemployment levels stand at 5.7%...   One in 5 individuals who are out of work -- some 1.7M job seekers -- have been unemployed for more than 6 months...   hiring for government jobs will slip 2% from April through June."
NBER says recession that troughed in 2001 April ended 2001 November.   The stock market crashed 2000-03-10.   The STEM job markets were already diving by 2000 September, and general job markets in mid-2001.   STEM product sales were tanking all through 2001 and 2002.   Job markets still had not fully recovered by the end of 2016.


2003-02-25 03:10PST (06:10EST) (11:10GMT)
Software piracy rising again in India
"Software piracy has begun rising again in India, with nearly 70% of the programs used in the country now illegal..."

2003-02-25 05:43PST (08:43EST) (13:43GMT)
Narayanan Madhavan _Yahoo!_/_Reuters_
GM to Invest $60M in India Tech Center
"General Motors Corp (GM.N) said on Tuesday it would invest $60M over 3 years in an Indian technology center which would aid round-the-clock global engineering and research to make futuristic vehicles...   Officials of the world's biggest car maker said the center, with 260 engineers to be hired over the next 18 months, will start work in June and collaborate with US and European centers of the company over high-speed communication links from Bangalore.   John Cohoon, executive director for global research..."

Lynn Franco _Conference Board_
Consumer confidence down
"The employment outlook was grim.   Consumers reporting jobs are hard to get rose to a 9-year high of 30.1% from 28.9%.   Those claiming jobs are plentiful decreased to 11.2% from 14.5%.   Consumers anticipating fewer jobs to become available in the next 6 months surged to 28.4% from 21.2%.   Those expecting more jobs fell to 12.7% from 14.2%.   The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their income dropped to 15.2%, an all-time low, from 18.4%."

Claudia H. Deutsch & Barnaby J. Feder _NY Times_
A Radio Chip in Every Consumer Product
"Typically, 15% of shoppers leave clothing stores without getting what they want, during the test, fewer than 1% of Gap shoppers left empty-handed [because shelves were restocked with popular items more quickly]...   And costs are still prohibitive.   The electronic tags cost at least 30 cents apiece; most experts think anything above 5 cents is too expensive to be widely used for individual packaged goods.   Prices would have to fall to less than a penny for virtually everything in stores to be tagged.   Sensors, which can be either hand-held or built into walls, can cost $1K each.   But costs are coming down fast.   Alien Technology, for one, says that it can now sell radio frequency identification tags profitably at 5 cents each for orders of a billion tags or more...   Consumer privacy is also an issue.   It would be easy to combine credit card data with information from the retail chips to know who bought what, and when -- and, conceivably, track the product even after it left the store...   Kevin Ashton, a P&G executive who directs the Auto-ID Center, estimates that on average 10% of stores are out of items the managers think are in stock -- and as many as 40% do not realize they are out of a color or size.   The monetary impact of losing track of goods is huge.   According to a survey by the University of Florida, shrinkage -- the common retailing term for goods that disappear either through theft, misplacement, fraud or just bad record keeping -- cost retailers a record $31.3G last year.   Only a third was a result of shop-lifting.   Nearly half was employee theft, about 5% was vendor theft and 15% was paper-work errors."
Privacy links

Stacy Cowley _Info World_
IDC: Worst may be over for IT cut-backs: Surveyed companies plan to maintain or increase spending
"Of those polled, 85% say they expect their IT budgets to either remain flat or grow in 2003 over last year...   But organizations are hitting the limit on how long they can delay maintenance and up-grade spending.   Cut-backs during the past 2 years have created a pent-up demand, according to Milton."

Paul Craig Roberts _VDare_
Immigrants In, IT Jobs Out
"For American university students struggling to prepare for high tech careers, the good times are over before they begin."


Wes Vernon _NewsMax_
Useful Idiots: [Hard Left] Marxists Exploit the Appeasement Movement
"Long-time communist supporters in the United States are rallying behind post-9/11 jihadists who want to kill Americans.   Security experts have told NewsMax.com that longtime leftist America-haters are deeply involved in organizing the appeasement demonstrations against war with Iraq.   The main-stream media, which fawned over these demonstrations, painted a picture of Main Street America trying to send a grass-roots message to President Bush.   But they did not connect any of the dots tracing their control and organization to tiny but influential Marxist organizations...   The pro-Marxist group 'that really started the demonstrations and controlled the demonstrations that took place in Washington in the last year or so is a group called the Workers World Party, which is ideologically in support of the North Korean government', he told NewsMax...   Horowitz, a 'red diaper baby' who grew up in a communist household and later became a conservative, knows the hard left all too well.   He told NewsMax that the demonstrations here in Washington and in other cities included operatives from 'the old communist left, the new communist left, and the next communist left.   These are people who have supported Americaís enemies for 20, 30, 40 years.'   Not all of them are 'genetic leftists', he said, 'but they subscribe to the fundamental views of the left which is that America is the great Satan and that private property and '''corporations'''... are the source of evil in the world.'"


2003-02-26 20:58PST (23:58EST) (2003-02-27 04:58GMT)
Jon Swartz _USA Today_
Many laid-off Silicon Valley techies work for free to brush up on skills
"Now, amid big lay-offs and not much hope of a tech turnaround soon, a growing number of Silicon Valley tech workers are working for free, recruiters and employers say...   The surplus of tech workers could make it tougher for paid employees to get raises and may eventually depress salaries, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Economy.com.   Some free workers hope to become paid workers when the economy turns -- or to cash in on stock options if their companies go public.   Others use the time to fill in training gaps...   Unemployment is way up, and Santa Clara County will have 955K jobs this year, down 100K from the peak in early 2001.   Zandi says average hourly wage growth for tech workers is at its lowest since the mid-1990s."

2003-02-27 05:38PST (08:38EST) (13:38GMT)
August Cole _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonally adjusted US initial jobless claims hit 10-week high
"The US labor market has deteriorated in the past few weeks.   The average of initial jobless claims over the past 4 weeks rose 4K to 399,750, a seven-week high.   Initial claims in the most recent week rose 11K to 417K, a 10-week high.   In the prior week, the average of continuing claims rose 20K to 3.36M, a 5-week high."

2003-02-27 07:00PST (10:00EST) (15:00GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
New home sales plunge to lowest level in a year
"Sales of new homes fell more than 15% last month to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 914K, surprising forecasters.   The level of new dwellings sold is the lowest since 870K were sold in January a year earlier.   Economists polled by CBS MarketWatch were expecting an annualized sales rate of 1.03M new homes last month.   Sales in December were reported at an unrevised 1.08M.   All areas but the Northeast reported declines, led by a record-setting 42.2% plunge in the Midwest.   Meanwhile, a months' supply of new homes for sale on the market stood at 4.5 in January.   That's the highest since 4.8 in 2000 June.   By comparison, the supply was at a tight 3.8 in December."

Katie Hafner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Where the Hall Monitor Is a WebCam
"They look like small snow globes.   The dozen inconspicuous cameras on walls and ceilings at the school campus at the center of this central California city capture video images...   [Privacy violation] equipment can include two-way radios for school staff members and metal detectors and panic buttons with a direct connection to the local police department.   A few schools with special concerns about abductions or terrorism are turning to identification cards that can hold bar-coded biometric information like finger-prints...   Mostly, however, schools are making [ab]use of increasingly sophisticated video cameras...   A network in a single building can cost around $30K to install. Fresno's cost was $35K, plus $350 a month for night-time monitoring by CameraWatch...   Biloxi, MS, for example, has spent $1.2M to put a... camera in each of its nearly 500 class-rooms... 30% of high schools and 15% of middle schools now have video cameras...   hall-ways, stair-wells, common areas and parking lots.   Cameras are customarily installed at entrances, too...   Privacy concerns have for the most part been minimized...   Dr. Drawdy said. 'We've had little or no question about it.'   Nor have schools encountered much resistance to another kind of security technology that is beginning to make its way onto the premises: identity cards with 2-dimensional bar codes containing information that can include photos, finger-prints, personal information and iris scans...   [In Orlando] plans to add finger-prints were delayed.   'It felt too encroaching.', said the principal.   'We decided, let's get everybody comfortable with it, then reinvestigate that.'...   whether they discourage violent crimes is doubtful, say even those who have come to rely on them...   Ultimately, Mr. Kaufman said, no amount of technology can substitute for the human touch in stopping crime and violence in schools."
Privacy links

Andrew Ward _Bloomberg_
US Initial Jobless Claims Rose 11Kk to 417K Last Week
"States received 417K applications for jobless benefits in the week that ended Saturday, up from a revised 406K the week before, the Labor Department said.   The 4-week moving average of claims, a less-volatile indicator, rose to 399,750 from 394,750, the highest since the first week of January...   The number of people continuing to collect state jobless benefits fell by 45K to 3.377M in the week ended Feb.   15 from a revised 3.422M the previous week, the report said.   10 states and territories reported an increase in new claims during the week ended February 15, while 43 recorded a decrease.   The insured unemployment rate, which tends to track the US jobless rate, was unchanged at 2.7%."

Liza Porteus _Fox News_
Report Urges Crack-Down on Non-Immigrant Visa Process
"The US non-immigrant visa-issuing process is in dire need of reform and could accommodate would-be terrorists, according to an independent immigration report released this month.   Although business groups say these visas are imperative to their bottom line, a Center for Immigration Studies report says the fact that the 19 2001-September-11 hijackers entered the United States on non-immigrant visas is a prime example of just how badly the system needs to be fixed, and they say it hasn't been done yet.   'America's non-immigrant visa program is badly in need of attention from policy-makers, most obviously because of its attractiveness as an entry to terrorists and other prospective illegal immigrants.', said study author Jessica Vaughan, a senior policy analyst at CIS...   Vaughan told Foxnews.com that her research shows that if current trends continue on the path they have been on for the past 2 decades, more than 100K guest workers entering the United States this year on an NIV will have a green card within 5 years, but hundreds of thousands more will remain here illegally.   The INS estimates that 3.2M of the 8M illegal immigrant population originally entered the United States on NIVs...   The Justice Department last April said at least 125K people over-stay their welcome each year..."

Wes Vernon _NewsMax_
"Hate-America Leftists" Lead the Appeasement Movement
"Adds ex-communist Horowitz in our interview:   'It's time for conservatives to stop calling these people liberals.   They are leftists, and they are hate-America leftists.'"

Juana Jordan _Tallahassee Democrat_
Enterprise zone wins approval
"According to county data from 3 years ago, 61,800 residents live in the zone.   Of those, 46.4% lived below the poverty line, and at least 19% were unemployed, compared with nearly 6% countywide.   Today, the [Leon] county [seat of the Florida capitol] unemployment rate is less than 4%."

Andrew Bernstein _Capitalism Magazine_
In Defense of the Cowboy


2003-02-28 07:30PST (10:30EST) (15:30GMT)
Latest ID theft scam: Fake job listings
"Internet job board Monster.com, acknowledging a growing problem for on-line career sites, is e-mailing millions of job seekers, warning that fake listings are being used to gather and steal personal information...   Monster, a subsidiary of New York-based TMP Worldwide Inc. and the nation's largest Internet job board, says it has 24.5M resumes posted on its main site."

Paul Krugman _NY Times_
Consumer confidence plunging
"Meanwhile consumer confidence is plunging, and almost two-thirds of voters rate the current state of the economy as 'poor'. Is there any relief in sight?   No. The conventional wisdom among business forecasters now calls for growth of a bit more than 3% over the next year. Growth at that pace is barely enough to keep up with rising productivity and an expanding labor force, not enough to make a serious dent in unemployment. And a growing number of forecasters think the conventional wisdom is overoptimistic, that the pain is about to get even worse... Then there's the effect of the worst fiscal crisis in the 50 states since World War II. Iris Lav of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggests that tax increases and spending cuts at the state level could drain $100 billion from the national economy over the next year. Aid from Washington is an obvious answer -- but the Bush administration refuses to provide a penny. Finally, the increasingly grim mood of consumers can be a self-fulfilling prophecy."

On this day in 1901, Nobel laureate chemist and political activist Linus C. Pauling was born.   He never received a high school diploma, having dropped out of Washington High School in Portland, OR.   'I was 16 years old when I went away to Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis.   It was September of 1917 - the year the United States got into World War I...'
On this day in 1993 a battle erupted about 10 miles from Waco, TX, when some 100 functionaries of the US Treasury Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms attacked a church/home in force with fully-automatic weapons and helicopters.   At the end of the attack, dubbed "Operation ShowTime" by the BATF, 6 Branch Davidians and 4 government functionaries were dead, several more Branch Davidians and 15 government functionaries were wounded.   Ted Royster of the Dallas BATF office and Jack Killorin in DC served as spokes-clones for the BATF.   It was "the greatest loss of life ever suffered by the bureau" in a single attack since the BATF was formed in 1972.   The Waco Tribune-Herald had published an investigative report on the church criticizing what it called a lack of government action against its members.   "They came right in, parked right by the front door and made a frontal assault on the building.", said John McLemore, a local television reporter who witnessed the attack.   After the iniital 2 waves of assault were repelled, hundreds of functionaries from federal, state and local organizations added their numbers to the siege.   Two helicopters, a TV news van and a photographer's car were hit by gun-fire.   The whereabouts of evacuated church-members were concealed.   The church had moved to its Waco location in 1935 from Los Angeles after it split off from a 7 Day Adventist church there. (Material for this summary was gleaned from the NY Times, CNN, Time, Newsweek, "Rules of Engagement", http://pauling.library.oregonstate.edu/exhibit/column02.htm and other sources.)

Deborah Simmons _Washington Times_
Sisters of honor
"Why war, people around the globe are asking.   The answer, in a word: freedom.   No matter the battle or skirmish, freedom.   Regardless of time and geography, freedom.   In the air, on land as on the seas, and with sacrifice, moral clarity and unmeasurable conviction, American men and women do battle against all manner of freedom-ripping agents... 'They've invaded our country. We've got to stop them, for the sake of our children.', Mr. B quoted his wife as saying."

Terry P. Jeffrey _Washington Times_
Terror sponsors and visa showers
"On what may be the eve of a war with Iraq, the State Department is still issuing nonimmigrant visas allowing citizens of Iraq and other terror-sponsoring states to visit the United States.   Between June 1 and February 23, says the State Department, it issued more than 19K visas to citizens of the 7 countries the department lists as states that sponsor terrorism.   More than 11K of these visas were issued to citizens of the 5 terror-sponsoring states in the Middle East -- including 5,849 to Iranians, 3,673 to Syrians, 1,042 to Iraqis, 1,037 to Sudanese, and 188 to Libyans.   In addition, 7,281 went to citizens of Cuba, and 375 to citizens of North Korea...   Joseph D'Agostino, my Human Events colleague, reported in last September that in the year following the 2001 September 11 attacks, State issued 125,700 non-immigrant visas to citizens of all Middle Eastern countries excluding Israel.   Of those, 17,237 went to Saudi Arabians, and 20,206 went to Egyptians -- the 2 countries that produced the 2001-September-11 hi-jackers.   Surely, most visitors from terror-sponsoring states are good people..."

Wes Vernon _NewsMax_
Congress Mulls Probe of Communists' [Hard Left] Ties to Appeasement Movement, Radical Islam
"preliminary inquiries are or soon will be under way on Capitol Hill exploring the possibility of investigating the link between communists and radical Islamic terrorists.   Evidence mounts that this coalition orchestrated the recent appeasement demonstrations against President Bushís policy in Iraq."

2003-02-28 11:49PST (14:49EST) (19:49GMT)
_Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal_
Silicon Valley jobless rate tops Bay Area
"With 8.6% of its adults out of work in January, Santa Clara County, heart of Silicon Valley, had the highest unemployment rate of the six immediate Bay Area counties, according to estimates released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.   Santa Clara County's rate was more than 2 percentage points more than the statewide jobless rate of 6.5%, which was down from a revised 6.9% in December, the EDD says.   December's revision to 6.9% (up from the 6.6% which had been announced in January) was largely the result of revisions to the labor force data series including the new benchmark data, updated census information and seasonal adjustment factors, the EDD explained.   A year ago, in January 2002, California's unemployment rate was 6.4%.   According to EDD's survey of employers, pay-roll employment in California fell by 10,500 jobs over the month, for a total of 14.476M.   This is an estimate, not an actual count.   Of the unemployed, 546,600 were laid off, 83,600 left their jobs voluntarily, and the rest were either new entrants or re-entrants into the labor market.   San Francisco, with 7.0% of its adults jobless, was second among Bay Area counties in January.   It was followed by Alameda County, 6.8%; Contra Costa County, 5.6%; San Mateo County, 5.1%; and Marin County, 3.8%."

Tom Walsh _Boston Business Today_
Brain drain could haunt Hub sectors: Tech, finance threatened
"Young people in their 20s and early 30s are rapidly leaving the Boston area - an 'alarming' trend that threatens the Hub with a brain drain of significant proportion in the years to come, The Boston Foundation warns in a report set for formal release today... Among cities that attract young people are Atlanta; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; and Seattle, Wash., the report says. 'It is alarming that, given the attractiveness of this area and the concentration of higher education, that we are losing out to these highly competitive places.' Grogan said, noting that the city plays host to more than 250K college students each year..."

_Oregon Employment Department News_
Oregon's unemployment rises to 7.5% in January
"Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 7.5% in January from a revised 7.3% in December.   Newly revised figures for last year show that in the first part of 2002, Oregonís unemployment rate trended downward from a high of 8.4% in January.   From May through December, Oregon's unemployment rate stayed between 7.2 and 7.4%, which is close to last monthís 7.5%."

Brian Falk _Charlotte North Carolina Business Journal_
Off-shore IT out-sourcing expected to only increase
"India was among the first countries to provide off-shore IT work to U.S. companies, quickly establishing itself as the predominant supplier...   Some estimates project the country's corps of technology workers to reach 1M by 2005.   'There's a heavy emphasis on technical education in India.', says Tom Wilson, president of Osprey, a division of Indian IT company NIIT.   'About 75% of the graduates from post-secondary education in India have either an engineering or a computer science degree.' Technology analyst Forrester Research Inc. predicts in a recent report that 472K U.S. tech jobs will be lost overseas by 2015.   The exodus is not surprising, based on the findings of a recent Forrester survey.   The company interviewed 145 senior executives at North American firms and found that one-third use off-shore IT contractors.   Of those, 88% rated the value from off-shore providers higher than their American counterparts.   More than two-thirds rated their off-shore vendors higher for both quality and responsiveness...   [Red China], the Philippines and Russia are emerging as major competitors with India for IT work.   All offer low-cost labor, while Russia boasts a per-capita concentration of engineers, mathematicians and scientists that, along with Japan and the United States, is the highest in the world...   Sam Wazan is chief executive of Stripling & Beck, a Charlotte company that provides IT services from Lebanon...   He says the gap has narrowed in recent years, but a relative cost of 25% to 30% of the U.S. rate is still feasible."

2003 February

2003 February
Keith H. Hammonds _Fast Company_
The New Face of Global Competition
"In America's information economy, we have become comfortable framing our competitive advantage in terms of knowledge and innovation.   We justify charging premium prices because we have the best-trained talent delivering top-quality information solutions.   That's why panic over the over-seas migration of manufacturing jobs in the 1980s was short-lived: For all of the talk of a 'hollow economy', we remained masters of white-collar [gold-collar] brain work.   So what happens if brain work can be done anywhere?   Well, no, it can't be done anywhere.   That would under-state the enormity of what Wipro is pulling off...   Then it realized that piece-work is fine, but relationships are better...   In 6 years, it has trained 7K employees in Six Sigma and completed 1K quality projects...   Indian workers had been raised and [trained] to respect authority.   They did what they were told to do very well.   What they didn't do as well was tell clients what needed doing...   Engineers who are to meet customers, for example, prepare by dressing for a formal lunch and learning to use silverware properly...   In small groups, engineers practice asking pointed questions about clients' companies, their businesses, and their people.   Employees are taught to analyze situations and to de?ne the scale and scope of a problem.   They learn to 'prewire' a presentation, talking to everyone involved ahead of time to prevent nasty surprises.   And they are instructed in the ?ne arts of negotiating and closing a deal.   Every new engineer -- and Wipro hired 2,200 engineers in a 6-month period last year -- has some consulting perspective built into his 45-day indoctrination...   The Boss: Out-sourcing [bodyshopping] as a way of life...   Wipro, in other words, is charging up-stream into consulting and other high-value services [bodyshopping] while its bigger American rivals are rushing down-stream...   'Yeah, it's weird.', says a manager from a big US media company sent here to oversee his company's nascent out-sourcing operation.   'It's like we're training our own replacements.' "

2003 February
Thomas Mucha _Business 2.0_ To Our Valued Employees: Go Away: Furloughs have replaced firings as an innovative way to cut labor costs.   But does the strategy work?
"'furloughs' -- a down-sizing strategy that uses short-term shut-downs, mandatory vacations, or temporary lay-offs instead of firing workers permanently.   Furloughs allow companies to keep a tentacle on their precious -- though currently expendable -- human resources until the economy regains momentum...   Not every axed worker is indispensable.   Still, do furloughs help companies retain their best and brightest?   'It doesn't work.', argues John Challenger, CEO of out-placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.   After a few days of surfing from 'Maury Povich' to 'General Hospital', Challenger says, ambitious workers find new jobs elsewhere.   The economy isn't helping either.   Most companies with furlough plans expected a vigorous rebound within a few months.   More than a year later, they're still waiting."

2003 February
Stacy Lawrence _Business 2.0_
Economic Indicators, the Job Market, Music, and Global Mobility: What the statistics are saying. (with graphs and table)
"After falling precipitously at the start of 2002, the overall productivity of the US economy began to improve in the third quarter.   Why?   The Bureau of Labor Statistics credits the proliferation of pink slips.   Companies have historically retained workers well into a down-turn.   Today they move much more quickly to cut costs (read: employees).   Technology helps too, by creating big efficiencies in sectors such as banking , wholesale, and retail sales.   Add it all up, and it now takes fewer hours for American workers to achieve greater economic output."

2003 February
Chris Penttila _Entrepreneur_
Employee Interrupted: Would employees get more done if they were unavailable every now and then?
"Employees who dare to disconnect in this economy are running the risk of being marginalized on the job, says John Challenger, CEO of Chicago out-placement and research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.   Managers looking to make staff cuts "will go for those people who are out of sight, out of mind," he says.   But is that good for your business?...   Americans already work more hours than anyone else on the planet.   Now instant availability is leading to debate on whether employees should be paid overtime for work done via e-mail and cell phones during off-hours...   Is talking shop on the phone for 2 hours at night instead of setting a brief, 30-minute morning meeting the best use of everyone's time?   Then there are mobile employees who think that because they're always reachable, they're always working, and it's changing the way they do their jobs...   employees can't hide for long whether they're working hard or hardly working...   If you're not getting both results and availability in employees, you'll have to find the root cause, which could be a time management problem, a lack of dedication or poor skills, he says.   Results are what it's all about, but you should also be training your people so they don't have to be available constantly, says Dave Anderson, president of LearntoLead, a management and sales consulting firm in Los Altos Hills, CA...   if you must call during nights or weekends, keep conversations very short and on topic...   Letting employees unplug completely occasionally can actually be a competitive advantage, says Kurt Sandholtz, a career development consultant in Provo, Utah, and co-author of _Beyond Juggling: Rebalancing Your Busy Life_.   your goal should be to have their jobs so well-covered, it's unnecessary to bother them.   They'll come back refreshed-and more productive.   We could be heading for an employee back-lash, where being able to disconnect becomes a recruiting and retention tool."

2003 February
Bruce Sterling _Wired_
Dumb Mobs: A million networked marchers on demand - and a preview of the P2P political future.
"Plans call for the event to culminate in a vast march through the city, promising a remarkable show of technology-assisted activism - and proof that P2P is the wrong topology for a political party.   The forum is a fruitcake of every left-leaning European movement with an unredressed grievance.   Pull them together, tune them all to the same URL, and make a few cell phone calls, and you can fill the streets on a moment's notice...   Most likely, this being Italy, the police will riot before the protesters do.   When demonstrators gathered in Genoa to protest the G8 Summit in 2001 July, fierce Italian cops charged wildly up 5 flights of stairs to beat protest organizers peaceably sleeping in the makeshift computer center.   Which is to say that ultimately, the anti-globalizers and their nemeses employ the same strategy.   Both groups want to avoid the hard work of convincing the population.   They prefer to change the world the easy way: Attack the other guy's brain trust."

2003 February
Thomson * West
CoreContent Employment Compliance and Human Resources Law
"Job discrimination cases hit 7-year high.   Employee Relocation.   Job cuts up 42% from December.   Rising trend on HR out-sourcing.   Bethlehem Steel to end retiree benefits.   Disability-based hostile work environment claims.   Express rejection of FMLA rights upheld.   Fitness for duty examination may be an adverse employment action.   Employer's attempts at correcting harassment found unreasonable and insufficient.   California protects employees from using absence policy as basis of adverse action for use of sick leave..."

2003 February
_Engineering Research Associates_/_Governor's Office of Film & Entertainment_
Assessment of the Florida Motion Picture Industry "

The year 2001 represented a low year for motion picture production across the United States...   These factors, combined with an overall slowing of the national economy, a decline of advertising sales in the wake of the dot.com bust made 2001, and by extension, 2002 very difficult years for the production industry both in Florida and nationwide..."

2003 February
Roger A. Pielke _University of Colorado_
Supply of and Demand for Atmospheric Sciences Professionals (pdf)

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